CES 2018: TiVo Goes Device-Agnostic with New Platform for MVPDs

In an effort to help its cable operators make the leap to IPTV, TiVo has introduced a next-gen, app-based platform that will enable TiVo to deliver its interface and overall user experience on a variety of retail streaming devices as well a client that will run on an MSO-managed device that runs Android TV.

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The new, underlying cloud-powered platform, to be demoed at next week’s CES in Las Vegas, is designed to allow TiVo’s cable operator partners to begin their pivot away from QAM-based digital video distribution systems and spark the transition to an IP-based video architecture, with options for VOD, DVR services as well as linear TV.

That migration can be deployed in several different forms, including hybrid QAM/IP approaches as well as IP-only scenarios for all video customers or those tailored to specific market segments, such as broadband-only customers or for services that are delivered on college campuses within the MSO’s traditional service footprint.

TiVo’s next-gen work centers on the backend control plane of the video service and factors in the company’s new UI, search across linear, OTT, VOD and DVR-recorded content, along with upgraded components such as voice search and navigation and a personalized recommendation engine.

For MVPD partners, TiVo will also integrate encoders and other video infrastructure components from third-party suppliers, explained Jim Denney, TiVo’s vice president of product and strategy.

An example of some of that early work is already taking place in Spain with Vodafone, which has combined TiVo’s new platform with network DVR technology from Ericsson, and was the first service provider to deploy TiVo’s new user experience.

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In addition to that backend work, TiVo work in the next-gen arena will also focus on streaming clients that will operate as apps on unmanaged retail devices such as the Apple TV box and Amazon Fire TV players. TiVo is also extending its next-gen platform to web browsers and apps for smartphones and tablets.  

TiVo, Denney said, is also developing a client to run on MSO-managed Android TV devices that will auto-boot to the cable operator’s experience when the box is turned on and extend more control to the operator, for those that want that option. This option will also enable cable operators to deliver their pay TV service on a platform that also supports the multitude of OTT apps that are offered on the Google Play store.

In both of those app-based scenarios, TiVo’s new fourth-gen UX (formerly code-named “Hydra”) essentially will be bridged to those retail and MSO-managed devices and support the same “design sensibility” that is delivered by TiVo on its more traditional Linux-based boxes, Denney said, noting that the approach allows TiVo to scale across different clients using a similar baseline code.

This isn’t the first time TiVo has tried to extend a bridge to third-party retail platforms. In 2015, TiVo introduced an app (in beta form) for the Fire TV that enabled users to watch shows and movies recorded to the DVR on the Amazon-made OTT device. AsZatzNotFunny reported Wednesday (January 3), TiVo retired that original Fire TV client app a few weeks ago, presumably to make way for the new app strategy being announced today.

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TiVo’s fresh apps-based video approach for cable partners may ring familiar, as it shares some important similarities with new products for tier 2/3 MSOs that have been recently introduced by MobiTV and Evolution Digital.

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TiVo has yet to announce if any of its current crop of MSO partners have committed to the next-gen platform. In the U.S., possible candidates include existing MVPD partners such as RCN Corp., Mediacom Communications, Armstrong, GCI, Grande Communications, Midco, and Atlantic Broadband, among others. Suddenlink is also a TiVo partner, though Altice USA, which acquired Suddenlink in December 2015, appears to be going in a different direction with its recently launched “Altice One” all-services platform.

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