Category Archives: Tivo

TiVo Has Until Feb '09

“But TiVo has repeatedly failed to gain traction in the marketplace even though it has been hard at work creating innovative ad solutions and coming up with ways to help advertisers and networks recoup ad dollars.” – Meghan Keane

I’d flip it around – Tivo has failed to gain traction specifically because it’s been hard at work creating innovative ad solutions.

Rather than focusing on replicating the clutter and distraction of broadcast advertising, TiVo should have been focusing on improving the experience of capturing internet-based video 1. Completely bypassing the confusion of the switch to digital broadcast and making browsing YouTube on your TV as easy as browsing YouTube not on your TV.

Maybe even go so far as offering a box without a TV tuner – internet only.

But they didn’t and like Palm, their lunch was eaten by Apple.

My broadcast TV viewing has dropped precipitously since we purchased the TiVo 3 yrs ago. It’s down to 1 or 2 programs that TiVo rarely captures in any watchable way, and TV via Netflix.

Just yesterday I received an email from TiVo offering me $100 off their HD box – bringing the price down to $200 + service. Will we upgrade when our standard TiVo turns into a doorstop?

Right now, I’d put money on us dropping broadcast TV altogether. It’s not how I see us interacting with video after Feb 2009.

1. TiVo’s Future is in Videoblogs Not in Network Television

Asks: Should We Buy a HD TiVo?

Our Series2 TiVo is on its last legs. With each passing day, its over-the-air recordings (we’re a no cable household) are more and more unwatchable, while digital over-the-air recordings are getting more stable. But seriously, TV without TiVo is like email without a spam filter.

Back in January, I replaced our DVD player w/ a Mac Mini. Since then, none of TiVo’s non-TV features have been used (music, podcast, etc) – simply because TiVo’s UI was too much of a PITA compared to Front Row & OS X.

The Mini’s secondary job is to play Netflix disks and does so with far fewer curse words1 than the dedicated DVD player it replaced.

In a world where; there’s a computer already plugged into our TV, NBC is back on iTunes, Hulu.com gaining traction, and the Roku box, dropping $200+ on a HD TiVo for over-the-air programming seems questionable.

What would you do?

UPDATE 12 JUNE 2009
The Tivo HD is now on order. Lifetime service.

1. I won’t get into my complaints about iTunes and Front Row here – they deserve their own post. ;)

Putting the Digital Video ‘in’ Digital Video Recorder

Back in December 2005 I wrote:

“Now, despite the TiVo being a Linux box and hooked up to my network – I can’t easily send video to it. To be clear – I don’t want to get video off it – I want to put video on it. Easily. As easily as setting up a Season Pass.”

This morning, I read this from Mark Cuban:

“Can user generated content be uploaded to cable or satellite companies and then delivered as regular TV to be played back from a settop box or DVR.” – Mark Cuban

It’s nice to see these ideas gaining traction with those more familiar with delivering video than I am.

Internet-to-TV: How to Beat TiVo

“Sling Media’s entertainment division, told B&C that through SlingCatcher, users will be able to…bring online video content to the TV.”

[via Fimoculous]

The idea of getting any internet-delivered video presented on a television is something I’ve talked about here and here.

ELSEWHERE

“the SlingCatcher is different from other digital media servers because it just relays whatever is on your PC screen to your TV, without file conversions.” – Om Malik

“One way or the other, the line between broadcast/cable TV and internet TV will disappear and quickly.” – Jeff Jarvis

UPDATE
Apple TV just made TiVo obsolete. Sure, it’s tied tightly to iTunes. But I as long as I can avoid the DRM of the iTunes Store, the TiVo can collect dust.

Apple’s up 7.5 points on the announcements.

When Is Now?

“‘No, no, don’t answer it!’ I yelled. ‘It’s your parents! They’re calling from the future!’” – Jason Kottke

Everytime we catch up to “live” tv with the TiVo, I’m reminded of this exchange from Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs:

Dark Helmet: “What the hell am I looking at? When does this happen in the movie?”

Colonel Sandurz: “Now. You’re looking at now sir. Everything that happens now, is happening now.”

TiVo Being Funny

I’ve mentioned before how desperate our TiVo is to recommend its paltry selection of over the air broadcast to us. The other day, I saw Jen delete a bunch of Hogan’s Heros from TiVo’s recommendations.

Uh. I kinda wanted to….oh, forget it.

Then tonight, going through the Now Playing, 3 of the Scrubs recordings were in fact – Hogan’s Heros.

Ha.

TiVo really wants us to watch Hogan’s Heros and is masking it as Scrubs. Funny.

Or maybe, like the recent Amazing Race problems – the broadcaster is just screwing with the schedules.

I like the former option better.

Tivo HD vs Apple iTV

Jen and I talked about Baby Tivo recently. It’s a paltry 40gig, single-tuner. But, sans-cable, it serves us well.

Today, Apple announced their iTV, shipping sometime next year. Priced at $300, plays HD video, HDMI ports, wifi, Front Row (or something like it), everything you’d expect (maybe a DVD drive?).

Then later today, I received an email from TiVo announcing their HD Tivo Series3. 300 hours, dual tuner, THX-certified, all the TiVo goodness – $800+ monthly service plan.

Uhhhh. Hmmmmm.

I agree with Kottke. It doesn’t add up. Especially since I know some early adopters who were less than thrilled.

TiVo’s great – but only because there’s no alternative worth talking about. Apple just might make this interesting. For a difference of $500 bucks, I’m cool with watching this play out.

Tivo Time Travel to Late 80's Videoblogs

Some how, early last month, Tivo found a Saturday Night Live from 1989 and obediently recorded it.

Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller (does the map behind him remind you of Rocketboom?), Al Franken’s one-man mobile uplink (early video-blogger?). This is the SNL I caught on satellite TV working late as a farmhand.

Low budget effects, talent cracking themselves up, it all felt very videobloggy. Coincidence?

Doubtful.

Lots of jokes about George Bush (Senior) – the jokes are still funny. In sad, cynical, ‘things have gotten worse’ kinda way.

As and added bonus, 10,000 Maniacs – for Jen, I preferred Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians.

Videos Tab in TiVo Desktop – Video Blogs Now Playing – Nearly.

There’s an Easter Egg in the version 1.9.3 of the TiVo Desktop software for Mac. Flipping the right switch in the Preference Pane’s preference shows a new ‘Videos’ tab.

Restarting the server and scrolling to the bottom of ‘Now Playing’ shows my MacBook.

I’m very pleased they put my videos in ‘Now Playing’ (even at the bottom), rather than buried within the clumsily labeled ‘Music, Photos, Products, & More’ where they put the rest of my stuff. I’m glad we’re that much closer to the TiVo future I mentioned a while back.

On the downside, the TiVo still only understands MPEG-2 files. Not very popular round the videoblog-o-sphere. So, there’s a conversion step needed (Tivoizer to the rescue). Bah.

Though baby steps are baby steps.

TiVo’s Future is in Videoblogs Not in Network Television

We’ve been a TiVo household for about a month now. Excellent service, I’m glad we got it. What we don’t have is a satellite or cable service. As I mentioned on my other blog, this omission is very challenging for TiVo.

To me, the most interesting television isn’t on television. It’s the videoblogs or video podcasts or vlogs, or video clambakes, or whatever you like to call them. After watching a handful of TiVo recommendations, I’m confident in saying anything you can do with a video camera and iMovie is on par with most over-the-air offerings.

Right now, TiVo is only recommending programs based on what it can see with the decade-old rabbit ears on the top of my non-HDTV. But it’s artificially handicapping itself. The TiVo is on my home network – so its recommendations should be based on all the video across the internet.

This means because I prefer watching video on my TV rather than my computer, I’m way behind on Minnesota Stories, RocketBoom and without an incentive to dig deeper into video.

Now, despite the TiVo being a Linux box and hooked up to my network – I can’t easily send video to it. To be clear – I don’t want to get video off it – I want to put video on it. Easily. As easily as setting up a Season Pass. This seems to be completely outside current capabilities – these are the capabilities keeping TiVo alive, out from under the thumb of television advertisers, and provide a reason to accelerate the TiVoToGo rollout.

Just as Apple has embraced podcasting as a way to sell more and bigger iPods, copies of GarageBand, and podcasting servers, TiVo could do the same and one better – put a recommendation layer on top of all this video, a la AmigoFish.

Let’s take this one step further: Each TiVo is a Linux box, with Apache running and a Firewire/USB2.0 port in the front – it provides an easy way for people publish their video to the rest of the world. Turning TiVo into a social medium and a full-fledged citizen of the Read/Write Web.

In early December, TiVo started a very slow rollout of Online Services – including podcasts. Baby steps to their survival. But, my box hasn’t been upgraded for the TiVo Online Services yet. So it remains less used that it could be.