AMSTERDAM -- IBC 2016 -- Set-top-box maker TiVo has raised the curtain on the first major overhaul of its user interface in its 19-year existence.
The revamped and more visually striking UI includes a lot of new analytics functionality, allowing customers to more easily select the content they enjoy.
The technology can't yet read minds, but it can develop such a good understanding of personal preferences that it knows what a particular customer likes to watch and when. That means the relevant program details and graphics pop up on screen as soon as it's turned on.
The functionality is also much niftier, cutting out a lot of unnecessary clicks so that couch potatoes can find what they need without straining those fingers and thumbs.
Light Reading was treated to one of the first press demonstrations of the technology at this week's International Broadcast Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam.
It all looks impressive. The big question is how much it will excite new and existing customers at a time of big change and considerable uncertainty for TiVo. The UI overhaul comes in the same week that TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) was finally taken over by metadata specialist Rovi Corp. in a $1.1 billion deal. (See Meet the New TiVo.)
The new-look business, which will operate under the TiVo brand, will have a much broader portfolio and a strong foothold in both North America and Europe.
Indeed, the refreshed UI -- the product of a two-year design project -- includes metadata from TiVo, says Margret Schmidt, TiVo's chief design officer, to improve its analytics capabilities.
It is set for a commercial rollout with service providers in Europe in the next few months, according to David Sandford, the general manager of TiVo's service provider business.
By contrast, Rovi has struggled to penetrate Europe as effectively, despite claiming the most popular streaming platform in the US, with a market share of about 49% of households -- the same as Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) combined, according to Steve Shannon, Roku's general manager for content and services.
But it should now be able to ride on the European coattails of the TiVo business it has acquired.
"We've been successful at helping operators transition to a much more modern user experience and increasing their number of content sources," says Sandford. "We're successful in competitive markets where content choices are important and operators have recognized they can add value. There are few players in the world that approach it this way."
Despite all that, TiVo's set-top hardware business has continued to struggle and there is even now speculation the organization might quit the hardware market entirely. (See TiVo May Exit Retail Hardware Business.)
That would not be so dramatic outside the US, where TiVo "never really was a hardware player" -- according to Paul Stathacopoulos, TiVo's vice president of strategy -- having instead chosen to partner with manufacturers such as Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), Samsung Corp. and Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH).
Although Arris and Technicolor sell directly to operators, neither is a major retail supplier of set-top boxes, but that could always change.
More broadly, the TiVo/Rovi merger could make the company more attractive to potential hardware partners of all kinds with an eye on retail opportunities.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading