TiVo’s Charter Deal & Multi-Room Clues

TiVo’s gone ahead and inked themselves another deal with a cable provider:

Charter Communications, Inc. and TiVo Inc., today announced that Charter is setting its strategy for the next generation of television into motion with TiVo Inc. Charter and TiVo have finalized a multi-year agreement that will leverage the TiVo user interface to bring a new and enhanced entertainment experience to customers using a hybrid platform that leverages traditional cable and next generation IP technologies.

This shouldn’t come as any surprise given the US cable market and TiVo’s telegraphed strategy. But, unlike the sputtering along Comcast-branded TiVo service, Charter will be following in RCN’s footsteps when they offer customized Premiere hardware later this year.

Multi-room viewing during the “initial phase” of Charter’s collaboration sounds quite similar to existing MRV functionality found in retail TiVo DVRs:

View a common list of recordings and playback recorded content throughout the home, pause a recorded program in one room and resume playback in another, use trick-play functions on recorded content and delete recordings from any room. Only video programming without copy restrictions may be transferred using multi-room viewing or TiVoToGo.

The recording deletion feature may be a slightly beefed up version of what we see now. Or, it could merely refer to deleting a copy of a recording from the DVR you happen to be sitting at. Also unclear is the transport mechanism… have we graduated to MoCA or does this utilize the existing Ethernet and wireless connectivity? Given the “initial phase” terminology and short lead time (for TiVo), I’m going to assume it’s basically MRV and connectivity as we know it. However, it appears a more sophisticated whole-home TiVo offering is under development that Charter intends to leverage…

upcoming multi-room and non-DVR platforms

11 thoughts on “TiVo’s Charter Deal & Multi-Room Clues”

  1. I did reach out to TiVo yesterday on these items, but they have nothing beyond the press release to share publicly at this time.

    Also, it’s probably safe to say the Moxi experience is now dead. Charter was their biggest customer in the US. And they’re obviously not re-upping to some enhanced platform, choosing TiVo instead.

  2. I really wish Comcast would get on this. I have the ComcastTivo box and while its better than the standard Comcast DVR, it still is terrible compared to real Tivo.

    I’ve been holding off on getting a Premier in hopes of a deal so I can get On-Demand on there.

    Also, does anyone know the answer to either of these (at least, based upon RCN or other cable company Tivos):

    1) If I have a cable-branded and TivoHD box, can I transfer programs between the 2?
    2) Is there a chance (in the future) of getting the On-Demand app on non-branded Tivo boxes if the cable company supports it on their branded box?

  3. I think they are talking about both the whole home DVR which was originally in development for SuddenLink for late 2011 along with the thin clients and the traditional MRV.

    When they actually go on to describe the MRV feature, it is asterisked with a reference to copy protection. Of course this could also mean the thin clients won’t support streaming, which would be a pretty big failure.

    I think they are being vague on purpose and hinting at the new product since as previously mentioned it may not even be made available for retail or at least not with MoCa.

    My guess is we will see a 4 tuner TiVo with MoCa after July. I believe July is the deadline for the 4 tuner firmware on TAs so it wouldn’t make sense to even try to get it out before then.

  4. brennok, yeah TiVo did join the MoCA alliance and has previously indicated similar. However given the “initial phase” lingo and MRV description and limitations, it sounds like Charter will launch with the current Ethernet/wireless copy (versus streaming) solution.

    The real money is with the MSOs… TiVo has relatively few retail customers – so on one hand, most current dev efforts are probably targeting those partners. Then again, us retail customers could make a reasonable testing ground for newer, cutting edge features (and provide a reason to go or stay retail). We shall see?

    Michael, with the initial cut I think MRV between units should work. I remember one of the TiVo guys posting in the forum that they’d help link MAKs or something. Regarding downloading a VOD app to a retail box, I doubt it…

  5. I guess it’s safe to assume that similar to the RCN Premiere, the Charter one won’t support Netflix, Amazon or Blockbuster.

  6. And Charter, RCN, etc wouldn’t want TiVo to offer Amazon since it could cannibalize their own VOD offering/integration. The MSO is the customer, not the end-user in this scenario. Their needs come first.

  7. Personally I think all Tivo retail customers should be VERY happy to see all these deals, at least if they result in real sales. Without some change I don’t see Tivo surviving in the long run.

    But yes I’d like to see some solution for Tivo/Comcast customer access to VOD too. With the work Comcast is doing to support the iPad VOD access (at least for some content) it seems to me like this is entirely doable technically. Whether it will happen is another question.

  8. Oh don’t get me wrong, any deal TiVo gets I am happy about. My only complaint would be if they didn’t offer a retail version. This was one of the disappointing things about the MoCa announcement since they said it probably wouldn’t make it into retail units.

  9. @Dave,

    Since those very same MSOs periodically talk about offering ‘internet video’ to their customers through the cable co STB (not that it’ll ever happen), you gotta wonder what they’re talking about. If you exclude all the stuff they would consider competitive (Hulu Plus, Netflix, Vudu, Blockbuster, etc) then what’s left that people would really want to watch on their TVs? YouTube & Break.com? Seriously? Is all that development really appropriate for a feature nobody is going to care about once they role it out?

  10. I recently switched from Tivo to DirecTV and am very impressed by their whole home DVR capability. The UI is as good as Tivo, for what I use. Add to that having Netflix on my internet enabled HDTV, and I’ve got everything I need.

    That said, I still mourn how Tivo blew a huge early lead in DRV and Internet connectivity innovation. I was a very early customer, and an early investor. They were truly a “one trick pony” with the initial Tivo, and never built on it. A shame.

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