Skip to main content

TiVo Tees Up TV Streamer for Cable

Boston —TiVo is promising to
let cable operators stream live TV
and recorded content to subscribers’
tablets and smartphones — but
its new device stops short of delivering
Slingbox-style access to video
over the Internet.

TiVo Stream, introduced at
The Cable Show 2012, has builtin
transcoding features, delivered
via silicon supplied by Zenverge, to
deliver up to four simultaneous
video streams to mobile devices
from a TiVo Premiere digital video
recorder or the four-tuner Premiere
Q. The device is similar to the Motorola
Mobility box Comcast is using for AnyPlay, although
that’s limited to one stream.

TiVo specifically excluded Slingbox-style Internet
streaming from the device, to avoid raising any issues with
programmers who might object to the feature, according
to Jeff Klugman, TiVo’s senior vice president and general
manager of products and revenue. “If we get comfortable
that the content owners are comfortable with it,
we might consider that,” he said.

TiVo Stream does allow “sideloading” to mobile
devices, to take DVR content on an iPad,
laptop or other device. However, programming
flagged “copy-once” will not be transferred,
Klugman noted. Typically, premium
cable networks like HBO do not allow multiple
copies of their content: “For that, you’d
need to go to HBO Go or iTunes,” he said.

TiVo is working with its four U.S. MSO distribution
partners — Charter Communications,
Suddenlink Communications, RCN and Grande
Communications — to deliver the streaming device and
an IP-client box for second TVs in late summer, Klugman
said. TiVo will follow with retail versions of the products,
with pricing to be determined.

Unlike EchoStar Technologies’ Slingbox, according
to TiVo, the streaming device enables the simultaneous
streaming or download of shows to multiple portable devices
without interrupting what’s playing on TV.

TiVo’s IP set-top box acts as a client to the company’s fourtuner
Premiere Q DVR, to let a user access both live and
recorded television, a cable operator’s video-on-demand
and broadband-delivered content over the Multimedia
over Coax Alliance (MoCA) home-networking specification.

Both TiVo Stream and the IP set-top are designed to provide
the hallmark TiVo interface across all devices. While
the company didn’t disclose pricing, it said TiVo Stream
and the IP set-top are designed with “the low capital costs
that operators demand,” and provide such features as automated
provisioning and activation.

For its part, EchoStar has been pitching MSOs on
a solution to embed Slingbox functionality in
set-top boxes and gateways through a partnership
with chip maker Broadcom. However,
the company last month shut down
its U.S. cable set-top box business, citing
lack of sales potential.

Also at the Cable Show, TiVo and Pace
provided details of their first jointly developed
product, the Pace XG1, a six-tuner hybrid
QAM/Internet-protocol video gateway featuring
TiVo’s user interface. The gateway is scheduled to
be available to operators in the Americas later this year.
The Pace XG1 includes an integrated DOCSIS 3.0 modem
and at least 500 Gigabytes of on-board storage. It will
use TiVo’s whole-home capabilities, such as multiroom
streaming and support for both traditional set-top boxes
and the potential for IP client devices, as well as support
for TiVo’s mobile and tablet applications.

Meanwhile, TiVo has litigation pending against Time
Warner Cable, Verizon Communications and Motorola Mobility,
accusing them of patent infringement. In the past
year, TiVo has settled patent-infringement lawsuits against
Dish Network and AT&T with licensing pacts worth nearly
$1 billion.