The Rise Of The PVR: Painfully Slow. New Technology Adoption Is Slow

The Rise Of The PVR: Painfully Slow, But UK Highest In EuropeNever be fooled. Things always take a lot longer to change than you think they will – particularly where the mass adoption of a new technology is concerned.

The PVR lesson
When I started writing about TiVo back in 2001, I saw “PVR’s are a vital piece in the jigsaw.”

Continue reading The Rise Of The PVR: Painfully Slow. New Technology Adoption Is Slow

Tivo Swivel Search Launched: Content Beyond The Box

Tivo Swivel Search Launched: Content Beyond The BoxTivo have released a new search function that searches over not only the content on the box or that provided by the broadcaster subscribed to, but stretches beyond this to encompass relevant results from the TiVoCast service and Amazon Unbox™ on TiVo.
Continue reading Tivo Swivel Search Launched: Content Beyond The Box

Amazon Unbox On TiVo Bound For US

Amazon Unbox On TiVo Bound For USAmazon are expanding their Amazon Unbox service to the TiVo platform. It’s being described as a “soon-to-be-launched service.”

Unbox offers TV programmes and films for rental or purchase, delivered down a broadband connection.

Amazon are taking a route much the same that Sky is in the UK. They initially offered the Sky Anytime service on PC first, and are now in process of moving it to their Sky+ box. TiVo are claiming 1.5m broadband-ready TiVo boxes in the US, significantly less than the number of Sky+ boxes in the UK.

The straight Amazon Unbox service (omitting the Tivo part) was launched in September 2006, delivering content to PCs and, by way of difference from Sky, portable device (as long as they were Windows Media Video-compatible).

The line-up of content providers includes the usual suspects – CBS, Fox Entertainment Group, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Amazon Unbox On TiVo Bound For US

How do you get it?
Sign up for the service sounds pretty easy. TiVo subscribers simply log on to and follow a few simple steps to establish a link between their broadband connected TiVo Series2 or Series3 box and their Amazon account. The list of available content will then make its way down the broadband pipe, to be displayed on the usual TiVo “Now Playing” list.

Prices for television episodes are $1.99, with most films costing between $9.99 and $14.99 for purchase. Film rental starts at $1.99.

Respect for the customer
In a move that shows that TiVo/Amazon look at things from the consumer perspective, all purchased videos are automatically stored in each customer’s “Your Media Library” at for future access and download. This is absolutely the right way to do this, rather than forcing the consumer to buy it all again in their hardware gets into difficulty.

Amazon Unbox On TiVo Bound For USImpact
We suspect that Amazon won’t be stopping at delivering Unbox to TiVo and are likely to offer it on other PVR platforms after a period of exclusivity.

Given the straight Amazon Unbox service is wrapped in Microsoft’s DRM, we assume some kind of content protection will be applied to the Amazon Unbox on TiVo content. What is unclear is if this will also be by Microsoft – highly unlikely given TiVo runs on a Linux platform.

Potentially having to apply a second form of DRM to all of the content will be a major overhead for Amazon.

TiVo on Amazon Unbox
Amazon on Amazon Unbox

TiVo: Broadband Music Deals; TiVoToGo For Mac; Emmy Award: CES 2007

TiVo: Broadband Music Deals; TiVoToGo For Mac; Emmy Award: CES 2007TiVo has been shipping their PVRs with an Ethernet port since their series 2 model, promising content delivered over broadband.

At CES this week they told the world a bit more about what they’re going to do about it.

TiVo have signed deals with both Music Choice and RealNetworks to deliver music videos and songs to their panting subscriber’s TVs starting “later in 2007.”

The Real Networks deal is self-described as a “first-of-its-kind integration of the Rhapsody digital music service with the TiVo service,” which will give TiVo subscribers access to over 3 million songs on-demand only using their TiVo remote.

TiVo: Broadband Music Deals; TiVoToGo For Mac; Emmy Award: CES 2007TiVoToGo for the Macintosh
TiVoToGo – the Tivo add-on service that lets subscribers burn the content they have on their TiVo to DVD and transfer it to portable devices – is now available on the Mac, a year after it was introduced for the PC.

They achieved this through a joint venture with Roxio, utilizing their Toast 8 Titanium software, letting subscribers transfer programmes either one episode at a time or automatically as soon as the TiVo DVR has recorded them.

The standard charge will be $99, but for a limited period it can be bought through the Roxio site with the bonus of getting a FREE TiVo Glo remote.

Emmy Award
TiVo has had a pretty long path to where they are now, which at times has been a little bumpy, so we imagine there is much happiness when they heard that its Interactive Advertising Platform was presented with the Emmy Award for Outstanding Innovation and Achievement in Advanced Media Technology.

The collective ears of the advertising business must be ringing when TiVo’s CEO, Tom Rogers said, “We have proven that consumers will opt in to an advertising message if relevant and provided the ability to not miss their favorite shows.” The Ads-types will see grasp hold of this, praying that this will lead them out of the valley of (income)-death.


TiVo Announces Advertising Search For Television

TiVo Announces Advertising Search For TelevisionTiVo has announced that it plans to offer the first TV-based advertising “search solution” early next year.

Starting in Spring 2006, TiVo’s new television search capabilities will, apparently, “enhance the TV viewing experience” by delivering targeted advertising to subscribers interested in viewing particular advertising categories.

Hotshot media and advertising agencies like Interpublic Media, OMD, Starcom Mediavest Group, The Richards Group and Comcast Spotlight have teamed up with TiVo to develop the product and help determine relevant categories of interest (cars, travel, telecommunications, and consumer packaged goods etc) as well as work out pricing models.

TiVo claim their new technology will allow companies to shunt on-demand, consumer targeted TV advertising to viewers without the limitations of traditional television media placement.

TiVo Announces Advertising Search For TelevisionWith punters able to search for products by category or associated keywords, TiVo sees big benefits for advertisers (obviously) and punters looking for information on products or services.

The (ahem) “heightened viewer experience” offered by the new service is claimed to deliver “non-intrusive, relevant, interactive advertising, on an opt-in basis.”

TiVo subscribers electing to use the search service will be able to retain control over their “viewing experience” by creating a “viewer contributed profile” via the set-top box that will enable them to receive advertisements based on their interests (we wonder if there’s a “begone hideous advertisers forever” profile available?)

“TiVo is once again introducing to the TV landscape a new and innovative advertising solution that is intended to deliver an even better viewing experience for subscribers,” purred Tom Rogers, President and CEO of TiVo.

TiVo Announces Advertising Search For TelevisionSupping deeply on a morning brew of Buzzword Coffee, Tracey Scheppach, VP, Video Innovations Director at Starcom, enthused “The new TiVo application will provide both a needed platform for consumers to seek out relevant, searchable commercial content and an environment for advertisers to engage highly desirable and motivated consumers…it’s the first of its kind in the industry, and a platform that is clearly needed in this challenging advertising marketplace.”

The new service follows a successful interactive direct response advertising program on TiVo in August, where subscribers were able to respond to customised “calls to action” in select commercial spots.

Funnily enough, when we’re bombarded with advertising, the only “call to action” we get is to turn the ruddy thing off.

NBC Take First Pop At TivoToGo Enhancement

NBC Take First ‘Pop’ At TivoToGo EnhancementAs we predicted last week, the US TV networks are not taking the new TiVo enhancements to its TivoToGo lying down.

NBC are making the early running, with a spokesman telling the Hollywood’s Daily Variety trade paper, “TiVo appears to be acting unilaterally, disregarding established rights of content owners to participate in decisions regarding the distribution and exploitation of their content. This unilateral action creates the risk of legal conflict instead of contributing to the constructive exploitation of digital technology that can rapidly provide new and exciting experiences for the consumer.”

Legal types though, are quoting the landmark Sony v. Universal Studios case of 1984, citing it as a precedent where time shifting was expressly found to fall within fair use. Although this particular case has come under the microscope recently, during the Grockster case, where the the US Supreme Court ruled that companies could be liable if they deliberately encourage customers to infringe on copyrights.

NBC Take First ‘Pop’ At TivoToGo EnhancementIt could be, that time will prove TiVo have announced prematurely this new augmentation, without fully taking account of the wide ranging business and legal implications. But in this fast moving sector, innovation is a necessity rather than an option.


Nielsen To Include PVR Viewing In Ratings

Shock News -PVR Users Are Exposed To AdvertsNielsen, the top American agency that measures TV viewing audiences, is going to provide ratings that take account of time-shifted viewing through digital recording devices like TiVos even though viewers are able to, and in my experience, generally do, fast-forward through the paid for messages.

And as usual, with research funded by those that benefit, it could be worth taking several pinches of salt with this study. Some of the phraseology has strong hints of bamboozlement; the underlying message from a study conducted for the US TV networks, is that homes with PVRs and equivalents watch more commercials. Much the same came out from Sky after they introduced their Sky+ PVR.

Shock News -PVR Users Are Exposed To AdvertsThe US networks say that time-shifted ratings should be taken into account, and point out that PVR users watch more TV – which we don’t dispute. They watch around 5.7 hours and that’s more than 10% extra when compared with the technologically-disadvantaged standard household. Their logic follows that this extra 10% of viewing, gives them more opportunity to see commercials. With PVR penetration in the USA already around 8% of the TV universe and expected to rise steadily over the coming years, this adds up to a is significant amount for media buyers.

As one would expect, media buyers remain sceptical and many have said that they will ignore the new time delay viewers.

TV is now being consumed in a variety of ways. With Apple having sold more than one million download viewings of ABC programmes, expect further challenges for the agencies, as media companies seek to measure the viewing of commercials from mobile devices, Internet and other on-demand screenings.

TiVo, Yahoo Deal Connects

TiVo, Yahoo Deal ConnectsTiVo and Yahoo are linking up to provide a reasonably extensive collaboration.

TiVo Series 2 users will be able to program their TiVo over the Web, from anywhere with an Internet connection. Simply by browsing Yahoo’s TV episode page, TiVo users will be able to click on ‘Record to my TiVo box’ to setup a record. Next time the TiVo connects to receive updates, the Yahoo service will instruct the TiVo to record the program.

Programming your Tivo over the Internet has been possible since the first generation TiVo’s, but it required the hardware upgrade of adding a network card inside your TiVo and a small amount of fiddling with software. This deal makes it a simple point and click operation.

TiVo, Yahoo Deal ConnectsWe understand that both companies see this as a cross-promotion service, so moines haven’t been exchanged. Proof of the promotion for TiVo are see at the bottom of the Yahoo page explaining the service, where non-TiVo owners are given the chance to buy a machine for $49 after rebates.

We’d imagine that the possibilities of a deal between these two companies could be quite substantial, giving Yahoo a direct connection to the living room, something they’ve had strong desires on for quite a while.

For a long time there have been a number of rumors about TiVo being bought/swollowed up by another, more in fashion (therefore more monied) company.

TiVo, Yahoo Deal ConnectsThe programming your Tivo remotely part of the deal mirrors the deal they did with AOL a number of years ago, but as we mentioned, gives Yahoo an output in peoples TV rooms.

After pioneering PVR’s along with the now non-existant ReplayTV, TiVo has been slowly slipping from dominance as other players realised that they could achieve pretty much say as they had done. This has been mainly true, excepting the excellent User Interface that TiVo has triumphed with.

Yahoo/TiVo service

TiVo And Comcast Plan System To Place Fresh Ads Into Recorded Programs

Comcast And TiVo Plan System To Place Fresh Ads Into Recorded ProgramsComcast Corp. is working with TiVo on an advertising system that will slap new, updated commercials into already-recorded programs.

Philadelphia-based Comcast, the US’s numero uno cable company, announced last month it would start offering TiVo’s DVRs by 2006.

Viewers looking to sit back and watch their favourite shows recorded months ago would have their old commercials replaced with brand spanking new ones.

Like a Big Brother stalker in your very own home, the system could rummage through your viewing patterns to serve up specific adverts targeted at lucky old you.

Comcast And TiVo Plan System To Place Fresh Ads Into Recorded ProgramsThe new technology could help make DVRs more palatable to advertisers and the television networks because it should increase the chances of someone watching an ad rather than fast-forwarding through it.

Comcast Chief Executive, Brian Roberts, was clearly stoked by the idea; “In the long term, advertising is going to be a big winner. They’re going to get more bang for the buck.”

We think it makes sense to offer advertising that is directly targeted to the viewer; it could even be of use if the selection is comprehensive enough.

As to if TiVo owners would find this acceptable is quite a different issue. Many of the early purchasers of TiVo’s bought them because they wanted to avoid adverts and the only way DVR manufacturers will stop those people fast forwarding through ads, is to physically remove the button off the remote.

Separately, TiVo and satellite broadcaster, The DirecTV Group, announced a deal to let both companies sell advertising for TiVo recorders. The DVRs recently began showing static images, such as company logos, when fast-forwarding some shows.

Comcast And TiVo Plan System To Place Fresh Ads Into Recorded ProgramsUnder the pact, both companies are free to sell ads on the service, and each retains its respective revenue from any sales.

Renting TiVo
Threat from ad-skip tech hyped: Nielsen

TiVo Software For Comcast In Strategic Partnership

Comcast and TiVo join in Strategic PartnershipTiVo has signed a multiyear deal to make a version of its personal video recorder software available to customers of Comcast Cable, currently the King Kong of largest cable operators in the US.

The deal is the first of the partnerships the struggling pioneer hopes to forge with cable operators and will result in Comcast and TiVo working together in peace and harmony to develop a version of the TiVo service to be made available on Comcast’s current DVR platform.

The new service will be marketed with the TiVo brand, and is expected to be slipping out on Comcast’s DVR products in a majority of Comcast markets in mid-to-late 2006.

This long-term, non-exclusive partnership will provide Comcast customers with the opportunity to choose the TiVo service with features like Season Pass and WishList, available as an additional option.

If all goes to plan, the service will showcase TiVo’s home networking, multimedia, and broadband capabilities.

“We are focused on providing our customers with a 21st Century television experience,” said Brian Roberts, the chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation. “TiVo has revolutionized the way consumers watch and access home entertainment. By partnering with TiVo, we are continuing to deliver technology that enables our customers to watch what they want when they want on TV. This agreement also reflects our commitment to work with leading technology providers to offer customers more value and choice in their home entertainment experience. Customers love the ease and convenience of our current DVR service, and we look forward to working with TiVo to enhance that service and offer customers the best-in-class DVR experience.”

Steve Burke, the president of Comcast Cable and COO of Comcast, added, “The strong TiVo brand, the clear track record of customer loyalty it has and its cutting-edge features make this a terrific partnership and exciting new product for Comcast.”

Tom Rogers, the vice chairman of TiVo, noted, “It is very important that TiVo has found a way to work with the nation’s largest cable operator on a cooperative basis to develop a state-of-the-art TiVo service, fully integrated with a cable set-top box, that will make TiVo available to millions of cable viewers. … This is a real milestone for TiVo and for the cable industry, but most importantly it is a milestone for television viewers.”

Analysts are hailing the agreement as a lifeline for the Californian-based company, whose shares jumped 75 percent, or US$2.87 (e2.14/£1.50), to close at US$6.70 (e5/£3.50) in Tuesday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Although TiVo currently boasts more than 3 million subscribers it has struggled to find a business strategy that would increase its subscriber base and withstand gnawing competition from generic DVRs offered directly by big cable companies.

In the quarter that ended Jan. 31, TiVo lost a thumping great $33.7 million, substantially heftier than the $12.4 million loss in the same period a year earlier.

Comcast and TiVo join in Strategic Partnership The Comcast deal means that TiVo will have to adapt its software to work on Comcast’s existing DVR platform. This will enable TiVo to blast out the advertising it sells as interactive video clips in their onscreen menu to Comcast subscribers.

Comcast will continue to market its own DVR, with new customers getting a dual-tuner DVR, letting viewers record two shows at once and high-definition television; TiVo offers such features only to DirecTV satellite customers.

Comcast subscribers who plump for the TiVo service will get funky features such as “Suggestions,” which recommends shows based on past viewing habits, and the ability to schedule recordings over the Internet.

The agreement gives TiVo access to Comcast’s 21.5 million cable customers, including 8.6 million digital cable customers who can take advantage of DVRs