TiVo’s new CEO has hit the ground running… with a buzzsaw. In a move aligned with today’s quarterly earnings call, 50 employees and additional contract staff have been laid off to likely reassure investors that the company remains on the path to profitability, despite what I assume to be stagnant retail sales and patent setbacks, by clearing several million dollars from the expense column.

From Multichannel News:

Signaling a greater emphasis on MVPD partnerships and a reduced focus on its retail strategy, TiVo is pushing ahead on a restructuring and reorganization

On the other hand, an anonymous source has characterized this as the unloading of dead weight for a leaner operation rather than a wholesale shift in strategy and abandonment of retail. Indeed, Mutilchannel goes on to indicate that TiVo continues to crank away on consumer offerings, with a new non-DVR product headed to market later this year.

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To expand the reach of Amazon’s original video programming beyond Prime membership, the company has launched Season 3 of The Fashion Fund … with ads. While Amazon describes this as an “experiment” to Re/code, given the level of effort required to update the video player, inject commercials into the stream, and even lock down the sponsors, I’d say it’s a pretty clear indicator of what’s to come. Fortunately, Amazon also indicates “Prime Video will remain ad free.” Except this one. For now.

In pulling up the 30 minute Project Runaway knockoff, which interestingly “airs” weekly, I was hit with three 90-120 second ad breaks in the timeline of three to four commercials, featuring Philips Norelco, Philips Sonicare, Geico, Lilly Pulitzer, and Proactiv.

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By way of DVR reseller Weaknees, we learn that TiVo’s recently devalued Lifetime Service is once again available for $400 under the company’s newer “All In” label. While the math, during this promotion or trial, is certainly more compelling than the prior $600 rate, the cost is not insignificant. Further, existing Bolt hardware configurations, with limited storage and tuners, may not appeal to the sort of power user that recognizes TiVo’s long term value as we collectively await a CableCARD replacement. Based on forum chatter, this reduced All-In rate may also apply to previously purchased hardware of different flavors, with something like a 26 month break even point. Should you find yourself more enthused than I, you’d take part online directly through TiVo (as pictured above) or by activating retailer-purchased units by calling in and mentioning the deal (possibly with Weaknees’ “TiVoInstall200” code word).

eero

To great fanfare, a new player in home WiFi launched this week. Well, at least the reviews did. Eero attempts to mate the coverage and performance of enterprise-esque multi-node networking to drop dead simple configuration via a number of svelte access point pucks. This is not your garden variety commoditized router. Other than some privacy concerns raised, then walked back, by CNET the consensus has been overwhelmingly positive in terms of router configuration and (largely qualitative) wireless analysis. However, despite many with challenging environments and deadspots, I wonder how large exactly is the market for a $500 home WiFi solution?

TiVo has once again launched a priority software update page, as they prepare to deploy version 20.5.9 to retail Roamio and Premiere DVRs, along with the TiVo Mini extender. There’s nothing really flashy here, as this is effectively TiVo’s Snow Leopard build — a substantial update of unsexy but critical bug fixes. Having said that, with no fanfare, TiVo blessed these very same boxes with HBO GO last week … plus SkipMode commercial avoidance will hit all TiVo Roamio models 3/10. So while TiVo the company does a piss poor job in talking up their accomplishments, they are indeed taking good care of customers. And, if you’d like to be first in line for some stability improvements, get your TiVo Service Number entered here.

ZNF regulars know HBOGo is headed to TiVo’s platform, although management has yet to say anything publicly… until last week.

The new partnership will enable Buckeye’s customers to enjoy a consistent TV experience combining TiVo’s feature-rich User Interface with a market leading content experience — the best of traditional cable content combined with diverse broadband-delivered OTT content, such as Hulu, YouTube, HBOGo, and more.

While this (surprisingly detailed) press release is specific to a new cable provider partnership, I can’t imagine HBOGo would not make it’s way to retail TiVo boxes as well. The only real question is: Will HBO Now also make an appearance for the cord cutters amongst us?

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Roku has announced plans to expand their hardware licensing offerings, beyond simply rebranded streamers and streaming televisions, with a “hybrid” box that integrates a television tuner alongside over-the-top apps. Further, new software customization will be made available to pay TV service partners “enabling them to surface content directly on the home screen or give recommendations to their customers.”

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UK-based Sky TV has been leasing a pretty standard, but white, Roku box that taps into their NOW IPTV service the last few years. As such, they will be the first to deploy this new hybrid set-top, that looks a lot like the Roku 4 hotplate, with a region-specific over-the-air tuner. Roku suggests other tuner options are on the table dependent upon partners, but it’s not clear if a retail Roku STB might ever ship with a tuner to provide live OTA television. Compare and contrast to TiVo’s more heavy handed deeply integrated provider offerings – which probably says more about partner co technology than technical approach. In any event, with another $45 million in funding, Roku’s definitely working on something to keep Apple and Amazon at bay… and it sure would be ironic if the founder of ReplayTV, aka Roku’s CEO, once again gets into the DVR business.

Until recently, my 4th generation app-ified Apple TV hasn’t really been any more or less useful than my Roku 3 and Fire TV. And, for some, its launch without Apple’s rumored television service has been a significant disappointment.

However, I was recently turned on to Channels ($15) – a new app which streams live television from any HDHomeRun network tuner, So you can pipe both linear television and streaming services all through the same input and interface (although, as of yet, without universal Siri search). While this will naturally appeal to cord cutters with an antenna, those very same HDHomeRun OTA models now map clearQAM (for those with providers that still deliver, like FiOS) and, of course, there’s the HDHomeRun Prime for digital cable via CableCARD.

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