Tag Archives | TiVo

TiVo Loses More Customers, Sues AT&T and Verizon

TiVo SignTiVo’s quarterly call was a bit more dramatic than usual. While they continue to lose customers and innovate “at a very unhurried pace,” TiVo seeks a repeat DISH Network performance in going after AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) for infringement. Basically, TiVo’s current business model appears to be ad sales and patent trolling.

Unlike TiVo’s successful David v Goliath battle with DISH/EchoStar (SATS), things may play out a bit differently this time. First, there’s likely no smoking gun. Based on the evidence presented, it sounds like DISH may have helped themselves to an early TiVo prototype which was subsequently reverse engineered. Second, digital video recording technology may not be as patentable as TiVo would like. (Not to mention, it’s possible Judge Folsom and the Eastern District Court could run out of patience with TiVo’s community stunts and their own nationwide reputation. Then again, maybe not – these cases keep them in the spotlight and are good for the local economy.) Lastly, given the language in yesterday’s call, TiVo may just be looking to force AT&T and Verizon into some sort of licensing deal.

Another difference this time around, is that the defendants are relying heavily on third party tech. Verizon has constructed their own FiOS TV DVR software, but currently runs on Motorola hardware. AT&T’s set-top box platform is also Motorola, but the U-Verse software is largely Microsoft (MSFT). So it’ll be interesting to see how Moto and Mister Softee, plus others such as Broadcom, could be pulled into the fray. As an observer, and given TiVo’s pressure to license, I hope their contracts with DirecTV (DTV) and Comcast (CMCSA) are called into evidence.

My blogging partner Davis Freeberg has tracked down and purchased the PACER court filings so you don’t have to. Verizon here. AT&T here and below:

(Photo by Zandir; this post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)


Let’s Hope Best Buy Helps TiVo Sell More Boxes

TiVo Best Buy PartnershipBeloved-but-beleaguered DVR pioneer TiVo has found itself a ally: Best Buy. The two companies have struck a deal that will see TiVo boxes heavily marketed in Best Buy stores, reports Brad Stone in the New York Times. The relationship will put Napster (owned by Best Buy) on TiVo’s set-top boxes, and let Best Buy deliver information and shopping opportunities through the TiVos it sells. Best Buy also plans to build TiVo software into its house-brand TVs under the Dynex and Insignia labels.

The Times story includes one statistic which, if you like TiVo as much as I do, is alarming: Two years ago, there were 1.727 million households with TiVos, and that number has fallen to 1.6 million today. Most of the defectors have presumably left TiVo in favor of renting DVRs from their cable companies for a few bucks a month, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them did so when they upgraded their TV setups to HD and needed to replace aging standard-definition TiVo units.

As good as TiVo is, it’s a far costlier entertainment option than a cable DVR: You’ve got to both buy a box and pay Tivo a monthly fee that’s higher than cable DVRs cost. (Some of us choose to pay TiVo a sizable one-time fee rather than the monthly subscription.) I’d like to see the world look at TiVo as a premium product that’s worth the extra bucks, and perhaps the arrangement with Best Buy will result in more folks buying and loving TiVo. I know I don’t want to be part of a relentlessly dwindling cult…


EchoStar Ordered To Pay Up in TiVo Patent Case

EchoStar will be forced to pay a total of $190 million to TiVo as a result of a Texas District Judge’s ruling that the company was infringing on technologies patented by TiVo. Furthermore, it was found the company had violated an earlier injunction by attempting to develop a “workaround” which it said still violated TiVo’s patent rights.

TiVo’s case against EchoStar has been going on for quite awhile now: it lost the original case in 2006. This set off a seemingly endless stream of attempts by EchoStar to appeal, of which it lost all major rulings.

In an attempt to avoid further infringement, EchoStar developed what it called a “workaround,” which it said removed what TiVo claimed to be patented technologies. The DVR maker disagreed, and the courts have now found that the workaround did still infringe on patents held by TiVo.

The patent infrigement claims will be worth $73.9 million plus $15.7 million in interest, plus another $103.1 million has been tacked on as a result of infringement that occurred during the injunction period.

In addition, the company will now be required to shut off the infringing technology from practically all of its DVR recorders. In addition, it will not be allowed to attempt another “workaround” without telling the court first.

 EchoStar is remaining ever defiant, saying it will appeal the order with a federal appeals court, however its beginning to look like sooner or later the company’s going to have to pay up.

TiVo seems to enjoy the fact that EchoStar wants to continue pushing its luck: “EchoStar may attempt to further delay this case but we are very pleased the court has made it clear that there are major ramifications for continued infringement,” it said in a statement.

It may make better business sense for EchoStar to just pay up and license the technology. A single court has yet to side with them on any major decision regarding the actual infringement, thus chances of victory in the courts seem slim to none.

One comment

5Words for April 20th, 2009

5wordsWow, Oracle will own Java…

Larry Ellison is buying Sun.

Adobe puts Flash on TVs.

The post-Windows era begins.

TiVo to sell user data.

YouTube’s new comment filtering system.

Toshiba’s netbook starts at $600.

iPhone refurbs: a good deal.

Apple leads in customer experience.

A review of iPhone Quickoffice.

Microsoft gets $15 per netbook.

Be the first to comment

TiVo Gets a Blockbuster Card

tivoblockbusterBlockbuster, the video rental giant that’s trying to figure out a role for itself in a world of digital downloads, has struck a deal that should help: Its Blockbuster OnDemand service will be offered on TiVo DVRs. TiVo owners will be able to rent and buy movies from a selection of 5,000 to 10,000 titles (including new major studio releases, but nothing from Disney), with prices typically ranging from $4 to $10.

Blockbuster will also start selling TiVos in its stores, helping its customers make the inevitable transition from driving to the video store to choosing movies via remote control.

The deal adds yet another video provider to TiVo’s already well-rounded list: The TiVo HD in my living room already offers Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon Video on Demand, Jaman, Disney releases via CinemaNow, and more. Each one’s a bit different in its scope and focus–Netflix, for instance, offers all-you-can-watch pricing but doesn’t have major new releases; Amazon has a ton of stuff, but each item is priced separately; Jaman specializes in international films.

The experience is a little disjointed–each provider has a separate interface, so it’s a little like visiting a mall with multiple video stores rather than one giant store–and TiVo needs more high-definition content. (It should get that once Amazon launches HD titles.) But TiVo’s doing a good job of giving folks reasons to buy a box that go beyond recording cable TV–which is essential to its future, since it’s competing with renting a cheap DVR from your cable company.

As I said in the piece on Internet TV boxes I just wrote for PC World, I’d much rather have one multi-purpose box in my living room than a bunch of specialty ones. There’s no one Ultimate Universal Box yet, but TiVo’s doing enough to keep me from buying and finding space for something like a Vudu or Roku box. But if you know of anyone who makes a cable-ready DVR/DVD/media streamer that also plays Wii games and can replace a Slingbox, please lemme know…


The Joy (and Hazards) of Watching YouTube on TV

YouTube TVHave you ever wanted to watch YouTube on your TV?

I have, ever since Tivo started allowing YouTube streaming to their DVRs back in July 2008. And I’m here to confess: I’m a huge fan. Watching YouTube on my HDTV has radically changed how I “watch TV”.

One night I decided to do an experiment. I skipped watching regular prime time TV and only watched YouTube videos from my Tivo. I signed in to YouTube, so I could access my favorites, and playlists. Two hours later, I found that it was a very fascinating journey.

What did I watch? Anything that looked interesting, including some of my old YouTube favorites. Mostly, I let the videos lead me to the next one via suggestions and related content. It was an exercise in random discovery. I followed certain YouTube users. Then I would backtrack a bit and find myself on another trail of YouTube discovery. I spent some time watching music videos. I searched for classic Internet favorite videos. I even watched some of YouTube’s promoted videos, and found some of them were pretty good. (My current favorite is something called Thru-You, a YouTube mashup, where someone grabbed random musical clips from YouTube and created awesome songs.)

Continue Reading →


TiVo HD XL: The Technologizer Review

dscf0001TiVo was kind enough to send us over a TiVo HD XL — its “super sized” DVR — for us to take a look at. Essentially the device is the successor to the Series 3 units, however it is enclosed in the TiVo HD casing. From here on out, it looks as if the TiVo HD and its bigger cousin will round out the DVR maker’s lineup.

Like the TiVo HD and Series 3, the XL uses a CableCARD, which eliminates the need for the user to rent a set-top box from the cable companies. At least here where I live, Comcast doesn’t charge for CableCARD usage, so I’m saving myself the $8 monthly or so fee it costs to rent the box.

It has dual-tuner functionality, so if you have the right card (an ‘M’ instead of an ‘S’ card), you’ll be able to take advantage of that. You can record two channels at once, and both in HD, so that is nice.

Really, there is not much different here: it’s essentially the same old TiVo with a big hard drive. That 1 terabyte hard drive should be plenty: it would allow for the recording of about 232 hours of standard def programming, and around 150 hours of HD programming.

This is a serious jump from the previous unit, which only allowed for about 20 hours of recording time in HD.

Altogether, our experience with the device was positive. Being that this was the first TiVo I’ve used that didn’t need the cable set-top box to operate, it was nice not to have to deal with the annoying banner of the set-top box, or the connection process there.

Picture quality was excellent, and the digital recording does not lose as much of the sharpness of HD programming as you’d expect.

You will lose On Demand, so if that’s a big hit in your household, the TiVo HD XL may not work. However here, we rarely use it, so at least in my own personal case, I’m not missing it.

I found one negative, and its very annoying. When selecting programming, and there is both a standard def and high def option, the Season Pass automatically defaults to SD. You have to manually go in and change it to HD, or use the online website to ensure it records only the HD channel.

If this is an HD DVR, it should be recording the high def versions by default, but thats only my opinion.

Overall, we’d recommend this unit over its smaller sibling. If you’re going to spend $1,000+ on a good HDTV, why skimp out on the DVR? Add to this the fact that the difference between recording times is like night and day, and this is a no brainer.


Pay For a TiVo, Order Crummy Pizza on Your TV!

thenoidTiVo announced today that it has you can now order Domino’s pizza via its Series2/3/HD boxes in the United States. No, it’s not Wonkavision–TiVo is just trying to distinguish itself in a world in which the DVR service it created is increasingly a commodity business.

But being able to order pizza from my TV would do very little to mollify the cognitive dissonance that I would experience if I was paying for TiVo. If I want food delivered, I order online from SeamlessWeb, or just pick up the phone and call. And besides, real New York pizza is better anyway.

Continue Reading →


Netflix via TiVo? Cool. But Not Cool Enough.

So TiVo and Netflix are announcing that their longstanding, apparently-dormant plans to work together have amounted to something after all: Starting in early December, owners of TiVo boxes will be able to stream movies and TV shows from NetFlix, and the cost is included in their monthly Netflix subscription. That’s good news. But it’s also by no means a substitute for the primary way Netflix distributes content–which is, of course, by shipping out DVDs in little red envelopes via snail mail.

That’s because traditional Netflix offers more than a hundred thousand titles, while Netflix Watch Instantly includes only about a tenth as many. Netflix’s own promotion for the Internet-based service stresses that it offers a “separate, smaller” selection of content, and that it includes “very few” new releases. (When was the last time you heard any company use the word “few” when discussing the choice it offers?)

You can’t blame Netflix for the skimpy selection–Hollywood just remains incredibly backwards when it comes to licensing movie and TV content for Internet distribution. And even though some other purveyors of Net-based video have a lot more stuff than Netflix Watch Instantly, including new releases, nobody offers what you really want: A service as comprehensive as traditional Netflix that lets you watch everything instantly on every digital device you own.

After the jump, a quick look at some of the major competitors.

Continue Reading →


It’s TiVo! On a PC! Thanks to Nero!

Ten months ago, TiVo and Nero announced that they were working together to bring the TiVo interface to DVR software you could run on a PC. Then time passed, and I sort of forgot about it. Until today–when Nero announced Liquid TV | TiVo PC (yep, that’s the name, complete with | in the middle). The moniker may be a tad ungainly, but it looks like the product aims to be exactly what you’d want it to be: A version of TiVo that happens to run on a PC rather than TiVo’s own box.

Continue Reading →

Be the first to comment