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Happy Commercial Day!

From Chas Edwards' post about Japan’s TV Ads: TV Ads Not Working:

Throughout August, 133 Japanese TV stations are airing commercials to promote the importance of…commercials. Japanese advertisers, like those in the U.S., worry about growing use of digital video recorders, now in 15% of Japan’s homes. By letting users skip ads, DVRs have knocked $489 million off the value of commercials to advertisers, says the Nomura Research Institute. To win back advertisers, the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan named Aug. 28 TV CM (commercial) Day.

Interesting to hear that Japan is way ahead of the US in DVR use (The US is at around 5%-7% right?) and this is their way of dealing with it.  Too bad I learned about Commercial Day a day after it happened, I would have bought my TiVo a gift had I known.

August 29, 2005 in News | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Yesterday's investor call

Yesterday was the quarterly investor teleconference at TiVo, which was open to the public through streaming audio and a massive conference call system. I was letting it play in the background while working on other things, so I might have missed a few key details but the big picture news consisted of the following:

  • TiVo finally broke even, and made a small profit after 7 years of losses. They are hopeful that the following quarters will continue the trend and show increasing profits instead of losses
  • There are teams of TiVo and Comcast engineers working on a combo TiVo/Comcast unit that is set for release sometime in 2006. They referenced this several times as a big future subscriber growth path.
  • TiVo is moving to a cellphone plan business model (something I've heard suggested since TiVo was released) where you get a TiVo for practically free if you sign a long-term service contract of a year or two. They believe a major sticking point with new customers is the cost of the box.
  • TiVo's goals for the next year or so is to drive for more subscriptions and start working with advertising within the TiVo service, which they believe could be profitable once their subscriber base grows.
  • It costs TiVo about $200 to acquire each new customer.
  • They spent a significant amount of time comparing themselves to Sirius Radio, which has half of TiVo's subscriber base at a similar monthly subscription price, but Sirius has a $9 billion marketcap while TiVo's is only around $500 million. It sounded like a bit of sour grapes on the part of TiVo executives. :)
  • While DirecTV is moving away from TiVo to the NDS R15 box, they are ordering up loads of R10 combo DirecTV/TiVo units for their existing promotions. DirecTV is still using the TiVo to drive new subscriptions even though their own product is coming soon, and this was a bit perplexing for TiVo execs.
  • They are in dicussions with multiple cable operators, trying to use free TiVos as a way to lure new cable customers away from satellite. They talked about the Cebridge deal and a new Cablevision deal and said more deals are in the works.

August 25, 2005 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Exclusive First Look: The New DIRECTV DVR

TVPredictions has some info and screenshots from their post about New DIRECTV DVR. The information is taken from an early manual that was passed around to distributors (and offered up here by someone) and talks about all the features that will be part of the unit. The unit is rumored to ship in October, but it has been pushed back a couple times and I wouldn't be surprised to see it pushed back further (especially when DirecTV is ordering more combo TiVo units to meet demand for their current promotions).

I'm most interested in hearing about the expanded HD content offerings as well as the recording/playback quality of the new mpeg4 HD channels, or if they're even available yet, but I'm sure we'll have to wait until someone has an actual unit to test out.

August 25, 2005 in DirecTV | Permalink | Comments (68) | TrackBack

PCWorld.com: How to Buy a Flat-Screen TV

Bg_plasmatv2PCWorld has a good introductory article on How to Buy a Flat-Screen TV. They cover the differences between plasma and LCD, the basics of HDTV, and the connections that provide the best picture.

With prices dropping on plasmas and LCDs, now is as good a time as any to finally upgrade your big old CRT and mount something sleek on the wall but of course, the longer you wait the more TV you'll get for a cheaper price. Also worth noting is that HDTV content still feels like it is lagging behind the adoption of HDTV sets -- you'll have a few over-the-air options if you are near a major city, but otherwise cable and satellite HD offerings are still somewhat new and expanding.

August 24, 2005 in How-To | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tivo, Internet Archive, and GlitchTV

Worship the Glitch (WTG) has a great post about finding free MPEG2 content online to stream to your updated TiVo. The Internet Archive is a huge repository aiming to be the world's library, with the goal of capturing and curating all human knowledge. Part of the Archive is their immense video library, which includes MPEG2 versions of all sorts of public domain, freely licensed, and open source movies.

WTG has offered a useful new service, GlitchTV. It's a daily feed featuring a movie from the Archive. Coupled with some podcasting software mentioned in the post, you could have automated nightly downloads of every movie in the GlitchTV feed delivered to your PC. Then it'd just be a matter of firing up your TiVo each night to see what wacky new movie awaits viewing.

August 24, 2005 in News, TiVo | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

TiVo announces deal with small cable provider

Cebridge_logoWell, it ain't Comcast, but at least it's something. That's the message I got from TiVo's latest press release announcing a partnership with Cebridge Communications. Cebridge is a small provider offering cable TV and internet to 300,000 homes in over 20 states, and they've partnered with TiVo to pitch standalone 80 hour TiVos to their customers.

This is a good sign for TiVo and hopefully one of many such deals in the future (I'm still waiting for my standalone HD TiVo that will work with Comcast). [thanks MegaZone!]

August 23, 2005 in News, TiVo | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

PC to Tivo Playback released

Looks like the TiVo 7.2 beta is over, as Tivo Desktop version 2.2 was released today. Coupled with the newly released Tivo OS 7.2, transfering video from a PC to your TiVo is now possible. The same earlier referenced TiVo support article explains the functionality and how to convert your other formats into the proper mpeg2 version.

A reader that has the new OS and desktop software writes:

Your PC with Tivo Desktop shows up as a server on your Tivo's now playing list, and any mpegs in your "Tivo Recordings" Folder show up on the Tivo.

If anyone has the new OS and software, can you leave a comment on whether or not streaming video from the PC to the TiVo is possible? It'd be a shame if you had to move half a gig of video files over before you could play them. If streaming is possible, this would allow you to use your PC as a video archive, by storing video there instead of the TiVo hard drive.

August 22, 2005 in News, TiVo | Permalink | Comments (37) | TrackBack

Next Gen TiVo's to support CableCard

Dave Zatz continues to notice that TiVo's job openings seem to be revealing where the company is headed next. This latest one hints at the CableCard supporting HD Tivo is being developed/produced.

Senior Network Porting Kit Engineer - CBD038
TiVo is seeking a senior software engineer to join the Network Porting Kit team. This team is responsible for providing abstractions and programming interfaces for multiple broadcast networks including satellite, cable, and over-the-air sources. Your code will manage mission-critical data at the heart of the TiVo service: channel and line-up information, program guide data, network-specific tuning, on-screen display of messages, and more. Furthermore, you will gain experience in open standards such as CableCard and proprietary service provider systems.

They announced a CableCard dual-tuner HD TiVo at CES this past January, and personally I can't wait to buy one, so this newest job posting is a good sign of things to come.

August 18, 2005 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

TiVo Investor Call next week

TiVo has announced their quarterly investor call, scheduled for next Wednesday, August 24 at 2PM. I'm curious how they'll talk about DirecTV dropping TiVo and any details about upcoming features or deals with Netflix and Comcast that have yet to become public.

August 16, 2005 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

TiVo wishlist tip

Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google posted a great wishlist tip:

Make a wishlist with keyword (say) 2004 and restrict it to the genre of Movies. Presto: browsing the wishlist gives you all the movies from 2004.

I often forget that the wishlist functionality is so flexible and so deep. Ever since I got a 16:9 aspect ratio TV, I've had a wishlist for movies/letterbox but it sounds like I could add in 2004 or 2005 and get just recent films.

I kind of wish that season passes and wishlists supported "greater than" or "less than" when adding criteria. For instance, often when I discover a new show, if I set a season pass, it will grab every new and old show, when sometimes I just want the current season of that show so that I'm not seeing things out of order ("give me all copies of 'six feet under' that debuted in 2005"). For this new movie wishlist, I wish I could say "give me all letterboxed movies that are less than five years old".

August 16, 2005 in TiVo | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack