TiVo To Add Disney VOD via CinemaNow

As TiVo often does (to soften the blow?), they’re putting our a release to coincide with an earnings callAmazon Unbox doesn’t offer Disney digital downloads, so TiVo’s gone behind their back and worked an additional VOD deal:

Titles will be available to rent through an agreement with Disney-ABC and CinemaNow, a digital entertainment provider of high-quality Hollywood movies and TV shows across multiple platforms, and the latest partner to join TiVo’s broadband efforts. The companies will offer the movies for a 24-hour rental period in standard definition, with many also available in high definition. The service is available to all broadband-connected TiVo Series2™ and Series3™ subscribers later this year.

More content is a good thing, but as it is TiVo’s menus have gotten too cluttered (and the HME/Java UI is too slow). What we need is a speedier, unified front-end to drive all video download options (and a speedier, unified Swivel Search comprised of existing search options plus the Wishlist). If I’m ordering direct from the TiVo box, it shouldn’t matter to me if TiVo, Amazon, Jaman, CinemaNow, or someone else is providing the content. One shouldn’t need to visit separate areas to ferret out a Disney or independent film title. Let’s hope this all gets a facelift with the next software update.

Interesting factoid 1: Like Amazon, CinemaNow content is Microsoft-protected WMV – thus additional transcoding (on the providers end) will be needed to prepare content for the box and TiVo’s own protection scheme will likely be used. Additionally, the press release indicates select titles will be available in HD and specifically states YouTube support will arrive “this summer” – presumably with H.264 playback for TiVo HD and Series 3 units. Will the HD be offered as H.264 or is TiVo sticking with MPEG-2? Given their current partners, I’m surprised I haven’t heard any murmurs regarding WMV-HD…

Interesting factoid 2: As we all know, EchoStar and TiVo are involved in a $100 million (sum likely increasing each day) patent dispute. However, EchoStar has been a significant financial backer of CinemaNow which powers DISH Network’s IPTV video-on-demand service. Proving once and for all that maybe we all can get along?

11 thoughts on “TiVo To Add Disney VOD via CinemaNow”

  1. Dave: Doesn’t TiVo usually have the spring update out by now? It’s been relatively quiet on that front, even though there has been talk about YouTube and H.264, etc., for months now. Perhaps they’re working on a more unified and streamlined set of menus to address exactly what you’re talking about?

    I personally would like the ability to turn menus on and off (even if it’s via tivo.com). For example: I will never use the Rhapsody service, so why do I need to see it cluttering up my screen? I also won’t use the online photo services, or the games, etc., so give me the option of switching those off and not looking at them. I can deal with the ads, but the menu selections for things I don’t want, need, or have are silly to include in the interface.

    And I would still like to have the Netflix service in the TiVos… but a deal with CinemaNow makes me wonder if that’s less likely or more likely (since that’s now three services between Unbox, Jaman, and CinemaNow so it’s unlikely anyone has any type of exclusivity agreement with TiVo). Since Rhapsody and Netflix would work in the same basic way I just can’t see TiVo turning its nose up to Netflix. I can say the Roku box is tempting, so I hope TiVo is paying attention to that little guy and what it can do.

    Guess we just have to wait and see.

  2. Too bad Cinema Now doesn’t have any HD movies, just old HDNet shows in HD.

    As for the UI enhancements, dream on, giving up on this dream is one of the reasons I switched to VMC.

  3. Geoffrey, the Spring update was relatively minor (except for Series2 performance improvements) and started rolling out in March.

    Ben, after nearly ten years I sure hope they’re working on an updated interface… As far as HD content, sounds like CinemaNow will have real movies for TiVo owners. Interestingly, Megazone reports CinemaNow will offer more than just Disney flicks. I wonder if this will cause confusion and/or if they’re going to dump Amazon?

  4. Dave,

    I have to say I think the complaint about the interface is just a bit too much inside pool. I’m not saying you’re wrong on the merits. But I’m a more-knowledgeable-than-average user, and I’ve been a Tivo subscriber for more than seven years. The menus are fine for me, and I don’t REALLY mind the clutter, or even what might be called slowness. I think Amazon Unbox is an awesome option. And whatever legitimate criticsms one might make about Tivo, it seems to me that it’s still superior to any other DVR out there. After all, what other product can time-shift your TV in HD; add an external drive for extra storage; off-load unprotected content to a desktop or laptop computer; permit remote scheduling through a browser; and allow download of pretty good quality video, over the internet, that can then be easily watched on your TV? If there is one, I don’t know what it is.

  5. I kinda agree with you, Dave, on the menu system. Compared to VMC, or even Moxi, the system has gotten too branched out and needs some tightening up.

    But, personally, what I want to see most if ability to view/add/delete scheduled recording online in REAL TIME. Second on the list would be fater interface for advanced functions. I haven’t tried them since Sprint update, but stuff like Rhapsody was sloooooooooooooow on my S2DT unit. That’s why I gave up on all advanced features altogether.

  6. AG, I’m critical because I care. ;) Seriously, I’m a TiVo customer and obviously mostly pleased with the service – it has the most complete guide data and is the most reliable DVR. However, other interfaces are evolving while TiVo has largely remained stagnant. They’ll move more videos by having a unified front end that allows one to search all titles, rather than having less savvy folks choosing from a list of movie services (CinemaNow, Amazon Unbox, Jaman) hoping to find the one that may have the title they’re interested in.

    Kevin, What are these guys doing with major announcements while I’m on the road (and during a holiday week). I’ll have to read up on it.

  7. I’m with you Dave in that I want a unified search – heck a duplicate of the current search box for TV shows would be idea.

    But in my ‘TiVo dream scenario’ TiVo would be a competitive platform. If I search for a movie and multiple providers sell through TiVo, I’d like to see the search results line up side by side so I can compare prices, video quality, language etc. and choose the one just right for me.

    But that’s still all fantasy. Now I’d be happy if they made the service available in Canada! :)


  8. Different providers means registering my credit card more. Maybe TiVo’s next partnership should be with PayPal.

    I like more providers……just not the extra “bookkeeping”.

  9. Well exactly Dan. In my perfect TiVo world my credit card is registered with TiVo alone. I choose the content I want from various offers but TiVo bills me and remits to the provider saving me the hassle. And, ya, it would be nice if they accepted paypal.

  10. As far as unified search among all providers is concerned, isn’t that exactly what Universal Swivel Search was designed for? Give it a try. It works quite well across both regular linear TV, Amazon content, Music Choice content, Web Video Downloads (TiVoCast), and probably will include Jaman, CinemaNow, YouTube, and other content as it is added. Sure it needs to be more publicized so people will know about it and use it but it does exist.

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