TiVo Preps “Next Gen” Interface


While perusing the merger-related deluge of regulatory filings for notable nuggets, we learn that TiVo is developing a “Next Gen UI” (in addition to reinforcing another consumer product is coming, which we’ll discuss next). For color, Virgin Media indicates they “will be updating the existing TiVo set-top box to make its menus slicker and more picture-based.” Vertical lists of text are inefficient in many cases and TiVo’s taxonomy could use some work. I’ve also long said the existing interface isn’t optimized for the appification of television, which probably dovetails with that “next gen consumer product.” Further, I wonder if user profiles are still on the roadmap and when voice control will hit.

Sadly, as is the reality in this space (re: Roku), advertising will likely see increased representation in TiVo’s new look. From CEO Naveen Chopra:

We have had over the last few years a number of different approaches to monetizing that. That continues to evolve so it’s a business that we are still investing in, but it’s one that’s certainly in our discussions where we will continue to be a big priority for the combined company going forward. We think there’s lot of opportunity there. The advertising business in TiVo frankly has been subscale; it’s been something we think has been important to show what the next generation of advertising and interfaces can look like

For reference, TiVo’s current HDUI bowed with the Premiere in 2010… yet still hasn’t been completed. Hopefully, they can knock out their guide transition within the 90 day wind-down period (which I’m hearing is the likely timeframe) and deliver a (complete) graphical interface refresh in 2016.

(Thanks Sam!)

20 thoughts on “TiVo Preps “Next Gen” Interface”

  1. Are you sure that the “next gen” UI isn’t just the ported version of the Bolt? That does have an updated look (and more complete HDUI) compared to the Roamio/Virgin boxes…

    Though that doesn’t explain the “slicker and more picture-based”.

  2. I believe it to be more substantial than the Bolt refinements and expect it to extend to other initiatives like mobile and that seemingly abandoned Fire TV app.

  3. “Vertical lists of text are inefficient in many cases and TiVo’s taxonomy could use some work.”

    Even if we completely forget about the ads, you will bitterly regret this comment once the new UI rolls out and you discover it is a far less efficient UX than “vertical lines of text”…

  4. I think I’m with @Chucky here — how much more efficient use of space can you get using pictures than text? I mean, the “Now Playing” section is pretty much a list of titles. I don’t see using pictures being more efficient — especially if you need to have text to describe the picture — unless you assume that I can identify every show by a screen shot?

  5. I agree with Chucky and Michael. I have several services that use poster art to represent content – and you just can’t get as much in a single view as you can from say the “My Shows” list.

  6. I wasn’t proposing replacing all textual content with graphical imagery and doubt TiVo would do such a thing. I knock them on a lot of stuff, but a crazy interface isn’t one – they usability test more than most (with real people, in a room) and have a team of designers. In fact, one of the reasons they’ve been so successful all these years is due to their interface (compared to the cableco). However, there are obvious areas that are in need improvement – the separate Photos and Music line items stand out as outdated entrances to often an overlapping pool of apps… that are presented in an inefficient textual list (I did the math) and with logos of inconsistent size/prominence.

    By the by, a century ago I cut my teeth on multimedia production and interface design – one of my more notable grad school professors in the field hailed from Apple, for whatever that’s worth. And hopefully you appreciate my always clean blog presentation (although, my taxomony too needs work).

  7. If history is any indication, the first appearance of the UI might be on the next gen hardware, and who knows if older boxes will get it.

    I don’t blame them for not making any drastic changes to the UI since they have tested it to death, but they haven’t done a good job making timely evolutionary steps either. Hopefully it’s a proper next gen UI, and takes advantage of next gen hardware by doing some new tricks, like previewing multiple tuners at once, widget overlays for quick access to scores/weather/whatever, and so on.

  8. Agree – I imagine that next-gen consumer product (that I assume is something more Roku-esque) and Virgin will be the initial recipients based on prior rollouts and public statements. How clever they get, we shall see. I kinda of wonder if What To Watch Now is a precursor of things to come.

  9. I have to agree I kind of hate the picture approach to movies and shows. It takes up way to much space. Even right now the channel logos are sometimes to hard to read.

    I sort of hate to say this but I wish Tivo would offer a second service option to eliminate ads entirely.

  10. Bob, you can disable the channel logos in the guide. I forgot where the option is, but I killed them — like the apps, the presentation is too variable, including a number of missing logos, and it becomes a distraction.

    Regarding ads, I assume there wouldn’t be enough people to pay for that tier of service to do away with them. Of course, before they become a problem, TiVo needs more partners (and maybe more retail customers). The Discovery bar rarely seems to have sponsored placements, for example.

  11. How about just focusing on placing more apps on the unit? I still don’t have Amazon 4K on the Bolt.

    I think the UI is just fine.

  12. I can’t get my local cable company convinced to go with the TiVo 6 tuner solution for their DVR option. Don’t know why because it’s highly successful for MSO’s. Instead they went with Arris 6 tuner Moxi headless gateway with “media players” (effectively Moca clients) at each TV.

    So I stick with DirecTV and the Genie because it’s pretty feature rich. They just rolled out transcoding to my DVR (it’s a slow feature rollout to continue all summer). Basically I can stream or download any DVR content or channel to an Android or IOS device. I’m pretty sure the only way I would switch back to cable is if they offered TiVo in house. Sure there’s retail, but about $1300 all in for a Roamio pro with lifetime and two mini’s wouldn’t show me any ROI for 44 months. I’m sure something (hard drive likely) goes in that time, or there’s something else newer and better, or heck I want to go back to Direct… That 44 months is too long to wait for any kind off ROI.

    I wish them the best of luck, but without universal VOD and maybe a lease model that mimics an MSO, it’s going to be a hard sell. They really need to drive this HARD to the calls operators. I have http://www.secv.com (Service Electric Cablevision) which was one of the first companies in the nation back when John Walson setup an antenna and wired homes he sold TV’s to up in Mahanoy City PA.

  13. Yeah, going backwards to 4 tuners was a really dumb move for the Bolt IMO, but Tivo said the box wasn’t targeted at existing users.

    The only changes I’d like to see with the UI are the elimination of duplications and obsolete stuff like Dave said, just a minor cleanup really. And put all the missing stuff they took out of the Browse menu, like 4-star movies, series debuts, some sports categories, etc.

    And oh yeah, finish the verdammt HDUI. Tivo defines itself as half-assed everyday with that.

  14. “For reference, TiVo’s current HDUI bowed with the Premiere in 2010… yet still hasn’t been completed. Hopefully, they can knock out their guide transition within the 90 day wind-down period (which I’m hearing is the likely timeframe) and deliver a (complete) graphical interface refresh in 2016.”

    I was there (at TC) when the Premiere came out. The new UI was amazing (for the time) and we all thought it would be completed by the end of the year(2010). Then month after month after month just kept going by with barely even any bug fixes. Then year after year…. when it became obvious that TiVo could NOT solve the speed and stutter problems with the Premiere (using the Flash based system) and had no interest in finishing the UI – EVER – I went from incredibly jealous of Premiere owners to glad I kept my TiVo HD XL by the end of 2011. TiVo just killed it’s goodwill with LOTS of customers over that unfinished UI which THEY considered finished — officially.

  15. Someone(s) did indeed f up. Beyond the incomplete HDUI, Premiere hardware didn’t actually meet Adobe’s minimum specs for the software they were running. Another reason performance was sub-par. The Haxe rewrite helped. But that initiative was a lost year or 18 months. Also during the Premiere era, development seemed to be on auto-pilot for a period of time while their primary focus was litigation and Virgin deployment.

  16. First sign you were going to have issues ——-

    the term — “Flash”

    I wonder how many people from the IT dept laughed amongst themselves from the announcement all the way to replacement of the Flash based interface.

    Personally, I blame the 12 million dollar moron Tom Rogers, “the cable guy”. The fact he came from cable say sit ALL. Hopefully, someone with vision past the 80’s can help.

    Hey, Tom Rogers, how are those DirecTV and Comcast TiVo UI deals working? I hope it was worth giving up your patent $$$ rights to them. Comcast and DirecTV laughed all the way to the bank.

  17. I second the need for more apps. I loathe Time Warner Cable (soon to be Spectrum). But I’m stuck with them if I want TiVo. They don’t do deals to allow third party apps like ABC to get content. (Why an ad supported broadcast network requires a deal with TWC i’ll never understand.) But TWC does have its own APP service that could be ported to TiVo. It’s available on other streamers. It would enable VOD, which is the chief advantage of a cable co provided box. (That and not having a damned SDV tuning adapter. WTF?!) I wish they’d do a deal with Apple to allow Apple apps to stream content to the TiVo. I wish they’d make it so the TiVo was always listening for Netflix and Youtube connections so I didn’t have to go into the app first before selecting it on my iPad. I should just be able to throw it to the TiVo. There are a lot of other apps I’d care about if I didn’t have Time Warner mucking things up including Turner Classic Movies. Oh how I want that app.

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