TiVo has unveiled a network DVR, joining the growing ranks of cable operators, satellite TV providers, telcos, and other service providers that are embracing the cloud ever tighter.
TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) introduced a prototype of its "Network PVR" at the IBC conference in Amsterdam Thursday morning, rolling it out with Harmonic Inc. (Nasdaq: HLIT). The new cloud-based platform features the same user interface, search and navigation functions, and general viewing experience that TiVo recently rolled out with its next-gen "Roamio" line-up of HD-DVRs, without the need for local storage of recorded content.
The network DVR launch marks another major step in TiVo's evolution into a cloud-based software management player, rather than a hardware purveyor. TiVo executives say the move will help spur the development of thin, low-cost IP set-top boxes, hastening the pay-TV industry's transition to IP video delivery and cutting capital expenditures and service deployment time for cable and IPTV providers.
"We're definitely moving to a place where hardware in the home will change and will get thinner and thinner," says Joshua Danovitz, VP of Innovation for TiVo. "This will be a transition over time."
The move also marks another step in TiVo's overarching strategy to serve all IP-connected devices with video content, not just TV set-top boxes. The DVR pioneer signaled its intent there last week when it announced a deal with Entone Inc. to integrate TiVo's cloud-based UI and video services into Entone's IP media streaming players.
Harmonic is supplying its integrated multi-screen video solution to prepare the content for the new TiVo nDVR. The vendor said its ProMedia Live real-time multi-screen transcoder, ProMedia Package adaptive stream preparation application, ProMedia Origin HTTP streaming media server, and MediaGrid storage system are all involved.
TiVo and Harmonic have teamed up before. In the UK, they joined forces to put together Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED)'s TV Anywhere package. Virgin Media, which just launched a trial of Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) service using TiVo-empowered set-tops, now has more than 1.7 million TiVo subscribers, more than any other cable operator.
TiVo executives have not announced a launch date or any pricing for their new network DVR service yet. But they said it could enable operators to offer a premium service with "expanded catchup and save options." They also said the service could allow programmers to place targeted ads in time-shifted programming.
In addition, TiVo officials said the cloud-based platform could enable "co-viewing experiences" through social networks and recommendation engines. For example, one TiVo subscriber could share a recorded show with another authorized user who missed the program.
TiVo officials have not signed up any customers for their nDVR service yet. But they clearly expect it to go over well with both cable operators and IPTV providers, both at IBC and beyond. "It's going to move very, very quickly," Danovitz says. "We're very excited about it."
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading