Archives For Satellite TV


Looks like DISH Network is next in line with an app store offering, following in the footsteps of rival DirecTV. EchoStar’s repeatedly delayed Slingbox-loaded 922s DVR, now slated for delivery “early next year,” will provide access to a variety of home grown and third party apps. The SDK and API has already been made available to developers, although DISH hasn’t yet committed to a store launch date. And, as you’d expect, they’ll act as gatekeepers according to Light Reading:

“We’re the ones to make sure the apps past muster, that they don’t use too much of the resources in the box, for example,” says Jeffrey Hale, an EchoStar national account manager.

Thanks, Mike!

My pal Tim has been mucking about in the newish DirecTV widget platform and, based on his video above, isn’t all that impressed. (Which may be partially attributed to DirecTV’s house brand of DVR which doesn’t function as smoothly his former DirecTiVo models. He’s just a little bitter.) While DirecTV’s “App Store” (Flickr, Twitter, weather, etc) seems too slow in his home to be usable, I prefer this on-box Internet app overlay experimentation to the connected television trend –  folks will purchase/upgrade their sets with much less frequency.


For NFL fans, DirecTV is the television provider you gotta have. I’m sure many appreciate the expansion of the Red Zone channel to other pay TV services, but mine (Cox) isn’t one of them. Not to mention, given the Twitter buzz, Comcast’s implementation was lacking in many markets. No HD?!


DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket Super Fan package isn’t inexpensive – we’re talking like $400. But it’s hard to argue with the coverage. Access to pretty much every game – on television, PC, and iPhone. Including the Red Zone channel and a Player Tracker overlay to keep an eye on your fantasy team. (Mine’s not very good, although the Seattle QB+TE tandem paid dividends.)

I’m pretty sure my buddy Tim was mocking my lack of access when he sent pics of the Adobe Air Supercast (top) and iPod Touch (below) video streaming apps. However, even though I’m stuck with just the “local” games at home, my new wing place is also a Super Fan. And we managed to catch the Eagles while someone else cleaned up after us.



Since EngadgetHD has yet to post a round up of their CEDIA coverage (the show floor is still open), I wanted to highlight some of the Media Center news. I can’t say it’s lived up to Ben Drawbaugh’s predictions or my lofty expectations. As I tweeted after Microsoft’s off-site event earlier this week, “The news was good, but there wasn’t much of it.” Bottom line: Build your own CableCARD computers, SDV support on the way, less DRM for more portable recordings, multi-stream CableCARD tuner coming, and the DISH Network tuner initiative isn’t entirely dead. Also notable is what’s missing… Where the heck are the new Windows 7 media extenders, is AMD/ATI out of the CableCARD tuner business, and how about some more substantial Windows Home Server MC integration?

Media Center CableCARDs freed from OEM requirement
The OEM requirement on CableCARDs has been officially lifted, freeing Joe Six Packs all over from having to buy whole systems.

Hands-on with the Ceton CableCARD tuner
The Ceton CableCARD tuner is a single PCI-E card that uses one multi-stream CableCARD and offers the ability to record four HD channels at once.

Dish Network Media Center tuner hands-on
We’re happy to say that Dish was proudly displaying a Dish Tuner for Media Center 7 at its booth. The bad news however is that it was just a “proof of concept.”

Windows 7 to get a better version of Netflix than Vista
The Windows 7 version of the Netflix Watch Instantly still isn’t going to work on Extenders for Media Center, but it will include a more seamless experience than the Vista version does

Normally, when perusing the various legal briefs and news coverage out of the epic and ongoing TiVo v DISH/EchoStar DVR patent dispute, my eyes glaze over (see: Boredom in the Courtroom). Today’s a bit different. A ZNF reader who’s been tracking this case, and who I presume to be a shareholder, forwarded DISH’s latest filing (7/13, PACER). The document in and of itself isn’t so interesting to the casual observer. However, it does reveal some astonishing content from within TiVo’s recent sealed motion (6/27) of sanctions for contempt of the permanent injunction:

TiVo’s response on the issue of judicial economy is that the sanctions hearing set for later this month will be short because each side was allowed only 30 minutes for argument. This simplistic retort ignores the substantial work for this Court — reviewing briefing, case law, and complicated financial evidence — that will be required for consideration of TiVo’s motion, which seeks nearly $1 billion in contempt sanctions.

There’s really not much to say other than: That’s a sh*tload of money. (While I’m having NTP flashbacks, TiVo actually has a product, business partners, and customers.) One thing’s for sure, if TiVo expects to see this kind of cash award, they’re going to need to buy a few more cows.

Click screencaps to enlarge:

bearhugI hate to admit it, but I’m feeling a little foolish right now. Last week, I raised the question of whether or not Dish was researching a hostile takeover of TiVo. In my article, I concluded that they might try, but that they’d never be able to afford the $7.5 billion poison pill that came with it.

Since then, I’ve spent more time researching the pill and realize that I made a terrible mistake. Not only is there an antidote, but Dish may already have it.

Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this pill, but could never figure a way around it. It wasn’t until I asked myself a simple question, that the solution became so obvious. What would Charlie do?

Love him or hate him Dish CEO Charlie Ergen has a special kind of brilliance. His reputation as a fearsome litigator is legendary and more than once he has demonstrated his mastery for the fine art of negotiation. Over the years, his decisions have created huge growth for Dish (albeit at great risks.) Unfortunately, his penchant for the legal system may have finally caught up with him and now he finds himself struggling in quicksand with the prospect of having to buy rope from TiVo.

Continue Reading…


It’s been several years since TiVo initiated their patent lawsuit against DISH Network, but we’re finally reaching the endgame of what has been an epic chess match between the two companies. Between the he said/she said arguments that have played out in the press to the endless legal maneuvers by both camps, it has been a long and brutal battle for both. As a TiVo shareholder, I’ve certainly found the long delays especially frustrating.

In the latest development in this high stakes game, TiVo appears to have pinned Dish in a dangerous checkmate situation. With appeals quickly running out, Dish’s options are becoming increasingly limited. While things look pretty dire for Dish, they may try to play one more dangerous gambit before the game is up:

I believe DISH might try to buy TiVo.

While looking through my traffic logs, I came across a very interesting visitor. (pic above) In 2006, I wrote an article referencing a “poison pill” TiVo implemented in 2001. Since Google loves bloggers so much, my story somehow ended up near the top of the page for the search term TiVo poison pill. Given recent analyst chatter that TiVo could be an M&A target, I’m not surprised that people would be interested in taking a closer look at the nuts and bolts behind the agreement, but I was surprised at where my visitor was browsing from.

While there’s no way for me to know who exactly it was, someone at EchoStar’s corporate HQ’s spent nearly 25 minutes researching an article that I wrote on the topic. Their outclick took them to the legal document that contains all of the nitty gritty details on how the pill actually works. Now, there could be any number of explanations for why someone at Echostar would be interested in TiVo’s anti-takeover provisions, but the most likely one is that they’re interested in making some kind of play at TiVo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Photo by Zandir

After finding a few minutes to scan TiVo’s quarterly call transcript what stands out, other than hoarding $200+ million in cash, is what appears to be a slippage in the delivery of a new DirecTV TiVo DVR. 2009 has become 2010. CEO Tom Rogers, via Seeking Alpha:

DIRECTV not likely to rollout until early next year

We’ve pointed to that timeframe in early next year

our expectation is early next year that the DIRECTV new product will be available

I can’t say I’m surprised. And have been suggesting for some time that it’s unlikely we’d see the renewed DirecTV+TiVo relationship bear fruit this year. Continue Reading…