Cisco’s IPTV Strategy

Dave Zatz —  March 1, 2006

Cisco, who recently announced the acquisition of cable set-top box maker Scientific Atlanta, lays out their IPTV strategy for eWeek. It’s not clear how or if their investment in MovieBeam plays into this. Five elements are nice, but will they leverage Scientific Atlanta’s assets into some sort of convergent Cisco-branded appliances — how about a IPTV DVR set-top box with built-in cable modem, wireless router, and VoIP functionality? I’m sure the cableco’s would love marketing that triple play device!

eWeek says: By leveraging the combined expertise of Cisco with IP, home networks with Cisco’s Linksys unit and now video, “we can deliver a better user experience with a platform to support many services to many screens,” said Paul Sanchirico, senior director of video and IP TV Network Systems Group at Cisco in San Jose, Calif.

In Cisco’s vision, there are five architectural elements required to deliver next-generation services that improve the user experience. Those include the connected home, where Cisco can now offer home gateways, routers and now set top boxes with Scientific Atlanta. The second element is the network; the third is the video head end, provided by Scientific Atlanta with satellite receivers, encoders and digital content managers. The fourth is a video control infrastructure and the fifth is Business Support Systems/Operational Support Systems. For BSS/OSS, Cisco intends to partner with systems integrators such IBM Global Services and Accenture.

Cellphone Slingbox Player?

Dave Zatz —  February 28, 2006

Looks like Sling Media is trying to partner with cellphone carriers to host or market Slingbox feeds, but they’re not getting anywhere fast. With or without their cooperation, a Microsoft Mobile Slingplayer will be available in the near future. Buried within the article is an interesting stat… 100,000 Slingboxes sold.

Forbes says: “We have no immediate plans to run that service,” says Jeffrey Nelson, spokesman for Verizon Wireless, the country’s second-largest carrier. “What runs on our network are our services.” So why aren’t they rushing to hop on? Likely, because they’ve got their own video services to peddle.

Sling Media’s executives insist that the carriers will come along, soon. “We’re open to finding ways to partner with them,” says Sling Media Chief Executive Blake Krikorian. “This is a fantastic offering for them, it will drive sales of devices and high-speed services.”

Netflix Causes Family Strife

Dave Zatz —  February 28, 2006

I’ve had The 40-Year-Old Virgin at the top of my queue for over two months, during which time Netflix has failed to deliver. I’ve even resorted to cheap tricks in hopes of improving my situation. Either Netflix is throttling the movies I get or they just don’t have enough inventory. I’m not sure which is worse… penalizing an active customer or poor planning. And if it is poor planning, how come they haven’t seen the error of their ways and purchased more stock?

My fiancé thinks I’m throttling her movie selections in favor of mine. She wonders how it’s possible Battlestar Galactica DVDs continually arrive but her DVD selection never does. Seems a little suspicious, don’t you think? So I begged Netflix to restore harmony to my home and this was their response:
Continue Reading…

TiVo’s Academy Awards Contest

Dave Zatz —  February 27, 2006

TiVo, Inc. and your Series 2 unit are hosting an Academy Awards competition. The subscriber who correctly picks the most Oscar winners will walk away with a 60GB video iPod. This is a fun use of HME… all we need now are folders.
Continue Reading…

Well folks, we have a date for both Blu-ray hardware and media. I can’t say I’m overly excited about the initial titles, though they’re an improvement over Charlie’s Angels. Lion’s Gate is listing newer titles at $39.99 a pop and classics (I use that term lightly) at $29.99. Let the format war begin!

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) is targeting May 23 to deliver the first wave of Blu-ray Disc (BD) titles at retail, it was announced today. Delivery will coincide with the launch that day of the first commercially available BD player from Samsung Electronics, which will be followed shortly by BD players from Pioneer and Sony along with a BD compatible VAIO PC from Sony.

SPHE and MGM Home Entertainment will first release eight BD titles, with another eight following shortly June 13. Benjamin S. Feingold, president, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, made the announcement.

The first Blu-ray Disc titles from SPHE and MGM Home Entertainment will include: 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight’s Tale, The Last Waltz (MGM), Resident Evil Apocalypse and XXX.

BD titles streeting June 13 include: Kung Fu Hustle, Legends of the Fall, Robocop (MGM), Stealth, Species (MGM), SWAT and Terminator (MGM). Underworld Evolution will debut in early Summer day and date with the DVD.

“We are primed to ensure that a variety of Blu-ray Disc content is available at retail to support the introduction of the first BD players from Samsung Electronics and Pioneer, as well as the first BD player and compatible VAIO computer from Sony,” said Mr. Feingold. “Sony Pictures further intends to provide additional titles to coincide with the launch of BD products from other manufacturers. We’re thrilled that the Blu-ray Disc era is about to begin.”

TiVo’s CEO Video Interview

Dave Zatz —  February 27, 2006

Reuters is running a juicy 5 minute web interview of TiVo CEO Tom Rogers. The reporter does a nice job in understanding the issues and asking Rogers the tough questions. If the business side of TiVo interests you, check it out!

Here are a few highlights…

  • “Having a DVR is not having a TiVo.”
  • Several new value-added features will be unveiled in the next 3-4 months to further distinguish TiVo from a generic DVR.
  • DirecTV may be responsible for about 2/3 of TiVo subscribers, but 85% of their revenue comes from other sources.
  • TiVo-enabled Comcast service is expected late this year.
  • Existing Comcast boxes can be upgraded via a software “burst.”
  • TiVo is in discussions with other cable operators.

(thanks Pete!)

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