November 28th, 2007

TiVo Dude!

NBC Universal Establishes Broad Partnership With TiVo

NBC Universal has established a multi-faceted multi-year partnership with TiVo which includes a subscription to TiVo's Stop||Watch service and reselling TiVo Interactive Tags for advertisements and promos. The agreement covers NBC Universal’s 14 television networks and 10 NBC owned-and-operated TV stations.
As part of the agreement, NBC Universal will offer advertisers the ability to purchase TiVo's Interactive Tags in conjunction with other NBC advertising products as a way to enhance their campaigns on NBC broadcast and cable networks and owned TV stations. The tags allow viewers to click on an icon when watching a commercial to obtain more information about that advertiser and then return to the exact place they exited viewing. Tags also provide advertisers with an effective way to reach live, time-shifted or fast-forwarding viewers and to achieve deeper engagement through the opt-in requests for more information. NBC will also be able to offer its advertisers detailed reports on the results of campaigns that include TiVo Interactive Tags. Under the partnership, TiVo and NBC Universal will also work together to develop additional advertising products and will share revenue where appropriate.

Regarding NBC’s subscription to TiVo’s Stop||Watch™ ratings service, Mr. Rogers said, “We are thrilled that NBC is the first network to embrace our Stop||Watch commercial ratings service and can measure audience viewing behavior and ad campaigns on a second-by-second basis, in both Live and Timeshifted viewing contexts. Moreover, NBC can benefit by using the Stop||Watch service to evaluate the effectiveness of various efforts to retain audience during commercial pods.”

NBC Universal will also begin utilizing TiVo Record Tags in its on-air promotions, which enable one-click recordings of NBC programming on any of its broadcast or cable networks when a promotional spot appears for the relevant show. NBC will use the Record Tags to help viewers discover the full breadth of NBC programming and to drive additional viewing.
Since NBCU is an existing institutional investor in TiVo, it isn't surprising that they would be the first network to enter into this kind of partnership with TiVo. See the press release for more details.
  • mabfan

Lifetime Service Transfer Question

I recently took advantage of the offer to transfer lifetime service from our Series 1 to a new Series 3 HD DVR, and I have a question.

After we paid to do the transfer, I checked our account on line and noticed that the Lifetime Service is still listed under Account Status for our older DVR. For the new one, it says that the Payment Plan is "Service Only, 1 Year, Prepay", the Account Status is "Account in Good Standing," and under Settings it says "Transfers ALLOWED." When I called the TiVo company to ask about this, they explained that the Lifetime service will in fact transfer over within 30 days or so, but that it doesn't do so right away in case our new TiVo doesn't work properly and we decide to return it and stick with the old one.

Does this sound right? Have others been told the same thing? We've got the new one working, and don't plan to use the old one anymore, and I'm wondering if I need to call TiVo back and tell them to effect the transfer. (I must admit that I'm also wondering if the person who took our order made a mistake and applied the extra 12 months to the wrong unit.)
TiVo Dude!

TiVo Signs Carat To Comprehensive Audience Research Subscription

From TiVo's press release:
TiVo Inc.(NASDAQ: TIVO), the creator of and a leader in advertising solutions and television services for digital video recorders (DVRs), today announced that it has signed Carat to a comprehensive audience research agreement. Carat, one of the largest media buying shops and among the fastest growing marketing communications groups worldwide, will utilize TiVo’s unique research services to help its clients better understand the most urgent issue facing advertisers today – the impact of DVRs on viewing behavior and especially fast-forwarding of commercials. In addition to access to DVR viewing behavior, TiVo and Carat will also work together to educate Carat clients on ways to reach the fast forwarding viewer, leveraging TiVo ad solutions.
You can tell TiVo's financial call is this afternoon - they've made new announcements yesterday and today. The subscription gives Carat access to both Stop||Watch and Power||Watch programs. DVR utilization is going nowhere but up and advertisers are getting serious about addressing that market. They have to evolve or die, and that's good news for TiVo as they're a leader in this space.
TiVo Dude!

TiVo and Nero Partner To Deliver the TV Experience

When I first saw the press release, and this statement "today announced that they have entered into an agreement to further enable the connected digital home by integrating TiVo’s television user experience with Nero’s next generation of PC software", I figured it was something like integrating TiVoToGo into Nero's software, along the same lines as Roxio. But I was surprised as I continued reading:
Under the agreement, Nero will develop a software solution that will bring TiVo features to the personal computer. Capitalizing on the growing PC TV tuner market, it will answer the consumer demand for a trusted PC-based DVR experience for use with the estimated 50.8 million PC TV tuners that will be sold worldwide by 2011, according to In-Stat research report published in April 2007.

“This agreement provides TiVo with an opportunity to deliver its interface and differentiated feature set globally via the PC, enabling TiVo to use all avenues of mass distribution – from consumer electronics, to cable and satellite boxes and soon, the PC,” said Tom Rogers, President and CEO, TiVo. “We are thrilled to work with Nero, a highly successful leader in software solutions for the PC who has the ability to develop a state-of-the-art program centered on the TiVo platform that will bring the same personalized entertainment experience to domestic and international consumers on their personal computers.”
With little fanfare TiVo just announced that, with Nero, they're going to be releasing PC-based DVR software that provides the TiVo experience.

That's big news, the TiVo experience has always been tied to dedicated hardware. But I have mixed feelings on this, as the PC-based DVR market is very competitive and it is already dominated by products such as BeyondTV and the 800-pound gorilla that is MS Media Center. I've commented in the past how I expect ReplayTV's PC-based software to crash and burn in the face of the competition, and that seems to be just what is happening.

On the other hand, TiVo has a couple of advantages. First, and foremost, is their brand recognition. ReplayTV never made it out of niche branding, while TiVo has saturated popular culture. So they will definitely have brand recognition. Second, TiVo isn't doing this alone. Nero is an established player in the international PC video software market, best known for their DVD burning software, and they have the expertise to develop and distribute the software.

Since TiVo is sharing the risks with Nero, I think the downside is small here. And it should help spread the TiVo user base into new markets. I do hope TiVo does the right thing and makes the PC software inter-operable with standalone TiVo hardware - so you'd be able to do TTG/MRV between the PC and the TiVo, etc. This is one of the things ReplayTV got dead wrong - their PC software has nothing in common with their existing hardware platform, and there is no compatibility between them. So there is no synergy for existing users to try the PC software. The only commonality is really the brand name.

If the software truly does provide the TiVo experience on a PC, and it is priced right, TiVo has a good chance at grabbing some of the growing PC DVR software market.

Amazon unboxed question

Hi everybody, I finally set up a network, and I have an episode of weeds, that I am trying to get into the Tivo. It said, your episode is qued to go into the tivo, but why can't I see any download progress? Is this normal? I sent programs from tivo into the computer so I could store away programs for the writer's strike and hold more then my standard tivo space, and I could see them going into the computer.
Anime MZ

TiVo To Embrace OCAP On Their Hardware

Yesterday, in an exparte filing with the FCC, TiVo revealed potential future product plans. The first part of the filing covers the Tuning Resolver solution for Switched Digital Video.
Pursuant to this arrangement, TiVo and the cable industry have developed an external adaptor that will allow certain one-way CableCARD devices, such as TiVo Series3 and TiVo HD DVRs, to receive all switched digital signals without a cable set-top box. A key component to this solution involves the cable industry's commitment to ensure that installation of CableCARDs and the external adapter will be easy and seamless for consumers.
That's simple enough, and doesn't reveal anything we didn't already know. However, then the filing gets quite interesting:
In this proceeding, TiVo had expressed concerns about the cable industry’s OpenCable Application Platform (“OCAP”) specifications and license terms. In response to TiVo's concerns, the cable industry has agreed to work with TiVo to make clarifications or adjustments to OCAP that may be necessary to enable TiVo to build what TiVo believes can be a viable retail DVR with OCAP. We explained that a TiVo DVR with OCAP would have a “TiVo mode” displaying all linear channels (including switched digital video enabled by OCAP) with the TiVo user interface and full DVR functionality as well as a “cable mode” running OCAP and displaying all cable programming services with the cable user interface without DVR functionality.
So this is a compromise - and I'd be happy with this. Consumers would get the full benefit of TiVo for most applications, only switching to the cable company's software, and therefore UI, for things like PPV and VOD, and any special services offered by the cable provider. That seems to be the best compromise possible, and it is certainly better than the existing stalemate where everyone suffers. I do wonder if this is something that could be introduced in software to use the Tuning Resolver developed to handle SDV, or would this require new hardware - a 'Series4'? I suppose only time will tell.

It is interesting that TiVo has broken with the consumer electronics industry, which has been opposed to OCAP in general and has been pushing a counter proposal - DCR+ (Digital Cable Ready Plus - unidirectional CableCARD devices, like TiVo, are based on the DCR spec. DCR+ would be an evolution to add bidirectional functionality instead of implementing OCAP).
We also expressed our belief that this refined version of OCAP was a preferable solution to DCR+ for a variety of reasons, including time-to-market and the ability to receive all of cable’s two-way services. Manufacturers, cable companies, and consumers will benefit most from an OCAP-based solution that enables the creation of differentiated retail devices such as TiVo DVRs and allows all of cable's two-way services to reach the consumer within a reasonable time. In contrast, a DCR+-based solution would take longer to implement and result in devices with more limited functionality that would not enjoy the full support of the cable industry.
If this works for TiVo, I expect we'll see more consumer electronics vendors dropping the push for DCR+ and adopting this OCAP compromise to bring products to market. I'd be happy to see that, since my main issue with OCAP has been the requirement to use the cable provided software for all functionality. This compromise would seem to allow product differentiation while still allowing end users access to advanced functionality.