TiVo Winter Olympics Recap

Dave Zatz —  February 27, 2006

The results are in… and the Olympics were boring! Overall the US finished second in both total medal count (25) and gold medals (9) without Bode Miller’s participation. The HD was great, but NBC’s coverage just didn’t capture my attention. I also felt used in the way events and participants were edited together in prime time to keep me watching… reaffirming sports coverage is more enjoyable when live.

TiVo crunched the numbers from 20,000 households to determine the top Olympics moments. Surprisingly, The Shani Davis Chad Hedrick Show didn’t crack the top ten though it contained my most replayed moments outside of curling.

TiVo’s Top 10 Moments:

  1. Canadian skater Marie-France Dubreuil slamming to the ice
  2. Sasha Cohen’s Short Program performance putting her in first by a razor thin margin
  3. Apolo Anton Ohno winning gold in the Men’s 500M Speed Skating
  4. Bob Costas interview of Silver Medalist Sasha Cohen
  5. Sasha Cohen performance at the Champion’s Gala Evening
  6. Commentary featuring U.S. skaters Kimmie Meissner and Emily Hughes
  7. Gold medal ceremony for Women’s Giant Slalom winner American Julia Mancuso
  8. Re-broadcast of silver medal win by U.S. Ice Dancers Ben Agosto and Tanith Belbin
  9. Julia Mancuso’s gold winning Giant Slalom run
  10. Russian figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko’s performance at the Champion’s Gala Evening

How-To Make a Fake Video iPod

Dave Zatz —  February 26, 2006

So you know that leaked video iPod image? Not only is it fake, the creator documented the whole process in a sweet little video put to music. You must go check it out!

(via Mac Rumors)

The Boondocks Cover TiVo

Dave Zatz —  February 25, 2006

Aaron McGruder and I simultaneously honed our artistic and comedic skills as undergrads at the U of Maryland. Print was his medium of choice with The Boondocks, while mine was radio with Zatz Not Funny. Looks like only one of us succeeded. ;)

Microsoft Trademarks MovieScout

Dave Zatz —  February 25, 2006

In trying to track down information on Microsoft’s Origami project, I came across a recent MS trademark application. On February 10, Microsoft requested the rights to the character mark MovieScout in relation to “providing online information concerning entertainment, movie schedules and locations, movie reviews, and ticketing.” The domain name is currently held through Market Vision’s squat and sell service. No telling if Microsoft has bought it or wants to buy it as MovieScout branded features could also exist within MSN, Xbox 360 Dashboard, MCE, or somewhere else entirely.

Hawk’s One Billion Suckers

Dave Zatz —  February 24, 2006

Thomas Hawk presents a less than rosy view of Apple’s one billion iTunes served. Though he is somewhat off the mark… we’re really talking about 50 million suckers. ;) Until recently I was counted amongst those suckers. See, I think the iTunes store is an efficient and reasonably priced service providing a large library of content to choose from. I also give Apple a ton of credit for defining a new and successful media distribution paradigm with this landmark accomplishment.

However, I’m not a supporter of Apple’s FairPlay DRM because they have refused to license it to other manufacturers. Prior to version 6 of iTunes, their DRM could be stripped enough with JHymn (of questionable DMCA legality) to play music on my Roku SoundBridge, TiVo, and Samsung Yepp. I’m not an advocate of piracy, but I do want the freedom to listen to my music on something other than Apple hardware or software. True you can export unencrypted songs to CD… but isn’t the whole point to free ourselves from cumbersome physical media? Not to mention it’s a tedious process with a large music collection… buy, burn, rip, label, repeat.

So as of iTunes v6 I ceased to be an Apple music customer. The DRM hasn’t been broken (why does it need to come to that?) and they still refuse to license it to other hardware manufacturers. Microsoft often gets a bad rap, but at least their DRM scheme for both audio and video is being made available to a variety of software, hardware, and media companies. I recognize and support a content owner’s right to protect their assets, but until a universal standard is agreed upon the consumer will lose — our options will be limited and confusion will abound. Ultimately this has and continues to stifle the adoption of digital media while widespread music and video piracy continues… Though I’m not sure that Apple minds as they continue to sell massive quantities of iPods.

MovieKlub Mail Order DVD Service

Dave Zatz —  February 24, 2006

Here we have yet another video distribution system that will fail (see MovieBeam ). MovieKlub will send you up to two DVDs a week for $24.99/month. So what’s the big deal? These movies can only be played 3 times… then you toss them out or return them for recycling. We’ve seen similar schemes in the past which expire discs by calling in or through degradation via exposure to air or laser… none have succeeded as business models. MovieKlub is scheduled to begin operations this summer.

No thank you — Netflix has got me covered until a better VOD/PPV experience arrives.

MovieKlub says: The Limited Play DVD disc has a coating composed of a dye capable of being irreversibly bleached by light absorption. In this DVD, the information encoding features are machine-readable prior to bleaching of the dye, which is activated by absorption of the laser light in the DVD player. The dye, once bleached, inhibits further reading of the information encoding features. Based on the application of the dye, the number of read/plays of the disc can be controlled and pre-determined. With the Limited Play DVD disc, however, upon sufficient exposure to the reading laser beam, the dye in the disc coating undergoes a change in the index of refraction, resulting in unrecoverable data.

(via Hacking Netflix)

TiVo Is Dead? Again?

Dave Zatz —  February 23, 2006

Let’s face it… if you’re a journalist, bashing TiVo is good for business. Very few companies inspire the cult-like loyalty and name recognition (a small player like) TiVo enjoys. There’s nothing like a negatory article to energize the masses. That could explain why every few months both the Motley Fool and Phillip Swann of TV Predictions claim TiVo is dying and/or will be acquired.

While it’s possible TiVo may die or be bought, their reasoning is illogical. Both point to TiVo’s Valentine’s Day mixer as a red flag. Do critics chime in that McDonalds is doomed whenever they release a bizarre television commercial? TiVo’s ultimate success or failure cannot (and should not) be gauged by a small marketing experiment designed to excite fans.

It’s true TiVo will lose a ton of subscribers when their deal with DirecTV expires. However, Comcast has roughly twice as many potential customers (~32 million) as DTV. It’s true TiVo’s release of the Series 3 HD model is taking too long. However, many of us will wait patiently for a HD stand-alone box while TiVo continues to add Series 2 subscribers. It’s true TiVo has not been profitable with the exception of one quarter. However, TiVo is investing in themselves by acquiring customers. Not to mention, it’s that critical mass of subscribers which has allowed them to sell more advertising at presumably higher rates.

In all likelihood, TiVo will never die. This kind of branding and buzz would be snapped up in a heartbeat if the current management team failed and TiVo were in trouble. More importantly, DVR technology is here to stay. I’m fine with competition in the marketplace — it forces companies to innovate and keep prices reasonable.

I know you visit my site for the hard-hitting journalism ;), so I asked the question many of us have been wondering… and during a brief email exchange Phillip Swann informed me he owns “zero stock.”

Swanni says: Unlike TiVo, tech companies such as Apple and Google have enjoyed remarkable success in the last year. So they are now getting the overwhelming (and sometimes gushing) coverage that TiVo once enjoyed. Tech reporters — like everyone else in the media — loves a winner, or at least the appearance of a winner. Apple and Google now look like winners while TiVo looks like a loser.

Fool says: If there’s anything the Olympics bring to mind, it’s the thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat. Not that TiVo’s a full-on defeat, but for the past couple of years, “disappointment” seems to be a reasonable word to describe the company. I was once a TiVo bull — I even owned shares long ago — but lately it seems as if TiVo has stalled out in the innovation department.