Video services

TiVo Set-Tops Trickle Out

Following some earlier delays, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) have verified the initial rollout of cable digital set-tops outfitted with TiVo's software and digital video recording service to customers in the MSO's Boston-area properties.

"We are pleased to confirm that the first non-Comcast employees have the new TiVo service, and that the rollout in the New England region will continue throughout the next few months," the companies said, in a joint statement.

In late May, TiVo officials said they expected Comcast to begin offering the DVR-set-top combo as early as August in a region that includes systems serving Boston, Southeastern Massachusetts, and parts of New Hampshire. (See Comcast to Kick Off Boston TiVo Party.)

The companies, which announced the original deal in March 2005, have not detailed a commercial deployment roadmap for those markets, or pricing on the TiVo-powered service. It's believed that the initial pocket of Comcast customers with access to cable boxes outfitted with TiVo are "friendlies," and are not paying extra for the set-top or the DVR service.

Analysts have estimated that the service could carry a premium in the neighborhood of $10 per month, but they have questioned whether consumers will pay extra for TiVo's application set and much-ballyhooed user interface, over an operator's more "generic" DVR offering.

Initially, Comcast is offering TiVo on Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) set-tops, including the dual-tuner DCT6412, but plans to port the DVR pioneer's software to Scientific Atlanta boxes as well. (See Comcast Funds TiVo App Expansion.)

The initial rollout marks an important step in TiVo's cable strategy, one that grew in strategic importance after DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) opted to deploy DVR apps from corporate cousin NDS Ltd. over TiVo's on a going-forward basis.

TiVo has a similar deal with Cox Communications Inc. TiVo CEO and president Tom Rogers has said that deployment should lag about six months behind the initial rollout with Comcast, but he has remained hopeful that it might get off the ground before the end of 2007.

Last month, Cablevision S.A. de C.V., the largest cable MSO in Mexico, began marketing a Spanish-language version of a standalone, standard-definition TiVo DVR. (See TiVo Goes South (of the Border) .)

Elsewhere in TiVo-land, the company has launched a program designed to entice existing customers to upgrade to the new TiVo HD box. Under the offer, good through November 8, those customers can purchase the HD box for $299.99 and transfer their "lifetime service" plans for another $199.

TiVo introduced the new HD "cable ready" box (it supports the removable CableCARD security module) in July. Its price point is considerably lower than TiVo's top-of-the-line Series3 HD box, which sells for $799.99.

Although some of TiVo's new standalone HD boxes can house Multistream CableCARDs, the devices themselves are not yet capable of handling two-way cable applications, like video-on-demand, or channels that are offered on an operator's "switched" tier. To address the latter, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is proposing a method that will enable switched digital video (SDV) services to run on one-way, cable-ready digital devices that use CableCARDs. The proposal centers on the development of a small adapter called the "Tuning Resolver." (See NCTA Sees Solution to Switching Snag.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:00:50 PM
re: TiVo Set-Tops Trickle Out I understand your pain on that one. I recorded the new Ken Burns doc series "The War" in HD and it took up almost all of my Moto DVR's hard drive space...would've been great if the series was offered on VOD so I wouldn't have to lose the stuff I recorded earlier to make room for the Burns series.
tsat 12/5/2012 | 3:00:50 PM
re: TiVo Set-Tops Trickle Out
Its not so much the Tivo software I want, it is the bigger hard drive. The drive in my Motorola Comcast DVR is going to get eaten up quickly now that I am recording HD programs.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:00:49 PM
re: TiVo Set-Tops Trickle Out Have you guys tried MythTV? I don't think there is no hard drive limit there.


If you're using a series 3 TIVO here is another link.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:00:38 PM
re: TiVo Set-Tops Trickle Out I haven't tried MythTV, but the TiVo info is pretty interesting, too. Some addition info on that is over here: http://www.zatznotfunny.com/20...

Wondering when cable will give this a real college try. There has been word Time Warner Cable allowed this on some SA Explorer DVRs:

But I'm not sure how many customers actually know about it or how actively the operator is promoting it. I'll see if i can get an update on this
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:00:37 PM
re: TiVo Set-Tops Trickle Out I believe in the early days of TIVO they were able to negotiate a deal for subsidies on the hard drive in exchange for revenue share of the monthly subscription fees. So it's been obvious from the get go that they have to shift the costs of storage to somebody else and ultimately to the consumer. PC's on the other hand have never had this problem, i.e. consumers overwhelmingly pay for upgrades and don't expect $299 type pricing for complete systems. Consumer electronics is a tough market to make a buck particularly when the cost of components is so high for a mfg. It all suggests that the MSOs have the upper hand with VoD systems assuming they can eventually negotiate rights to large catalogs. Satellite of course only has the option of user based DVR systems but from what I can tell satellite isn't really winning on the market side.

Also, as good as TIVO is it still has many irritating flaws. An obvious one is that it records shows that have already been watched. One would think their is an equivalent of a UPC bar code allowing the device to figure out if an upcoming recording is a repeat or not (defined by the viewer having or have not watched the show.) A streaming system has no such flaw.
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