Video software

New-Look TiVo Smartens Up Its UI

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.

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Tivo has unveiled the first major redesign of its user interface in its 19-year history.
Tivo has unveiled the first major redesign of its user interface in its 19-year history.

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.

Want to know more about pay-TV subscriber trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

TiVo has built strong relationships with some of the region's biggest operators, including the UK's Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED), a subsidiary of cable giant Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY).

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, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

Liz Greenberg 9/22/2016 | 5:52:05 PM
Re: Software future for TIVO?? I agree about the hardware issue, let us put it on an old computer or an XBox or something else that might be dual purpose, heck even on my phone or tablet.  But basically, move towards software that runs on any platform (well almost any...any is pretty tough to do very well).
kq4ym 9/21/2016 | 7:42:30 PM
Re: Software future for TIVO?? Making the UI simple and yet inexpensive or even free hardware, would be my wish. I've never wanted to spend the extra dollars for Tivo and found no compelling reason to get it, I've yet to see any advertising that gave me any reasons for a purchase either. It will be interesting to see which direction the company goes especiallly here in the U.S.
jbtombes 9/12/2016 | 9:27:56 AM
New UI, old logo Looks like they're sticking with the old logo, the two-footed, smiling non-flat screen TV creature with the slightly bent antennae. Guess if it's cute, well-known and ain't broke, no need to fix it.
AO1984 9/11/2016 | 3:25:15 PM
:) New-Look is making a huge progress. I am quite impressed!
iainmorris 9/10/2016 | 3:14:55 AM
Correction In the original version of this story, a comment was wrongly attributed to Steve Wymer, Tivo's global affairs and communications executive, rather than Paul Stathacopoulos, Tivo's vice president of strategy. This has now been corrected. Apologies.
Liz Greenberg 9/9/2016 | 11:37:27 PM
Re: Software future for TIVO?? Michelle, I think that it would be well received.  It could be the start of user centric solutions rather than each company doing middling jobs of offering so-so solutions.  Comcast seems to be focusing on the user experience/user interface but the rest seem to be giving lip service. 

Maybe TIVO could become the Android (sorry MSFT) of TV/entertainment then every company could use their API/SDK and apply their own unique touches but overall, customers would have a reasonably uniform and great experience.  It would keep TIVO, always a trendsetter, in the game while upping the ante for those who still choose to go at it alone. 

Michelle 9/9/2016 | 7:33:50 PM
Re: Software future for TIVO?? @Liz I think you're onto something! If TIVO sheds hardware to focus on software it could become the Microsoft of entertainment (wait...not that). I wonder how the market would handle such an offering. 
Liz Greenberg 9/9/2016 | 1:20:16 PM
Software future for TIVO?? Iain, a software future may not be a bad thing.  If one examines the terrible UI for say AT&T Uverse box, partnering with TIVO is a great idea.   I for one have always wanted a TIVO but then one looks at the additional costs, integration (much easier now), etc. and folks end up with just paying AT&T, Comcast or whomever for their own DVR.

My ultimate solution is to have a harddrive in the TV with TIVO software so that one doesn't have to have the myriad of cables, the extra power cost of the separate box etc.  This should be software upgradeable in order not to face obsolence too quickly.
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