Tag Archives: PVR

Placeshifting Moves On Up With Orb

Want to watch placeshifted TV, at 30,000 feet, on your PDA? Job done with Orb. Oh, and it’s free.

Hot on the heels of Slingmedia’s hardware-based placeshifter comes the release of Orb‘s software-only [and free] solution, which allows you to watch placeshifted TV, movies and digital audio and view your photo collection, from pretty much any device anywhere. And it seems to work — MobileCrunch successfully field-tested the service under pretty extreme conditions:

I even managed to watch part of Underworld Revolution from 36,000 feet using Conexion by Boeing on my way back from Korea. When you think about it, that’s pretty amazing, especially since it’s free.


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You Read It Here First: Slingbox

We’re so over timeshifting TV – how about placeshifting it as well?

The Economist writes this week about placeshifting TV content — watching it from anywhere — with the help of nifty little devices like Slingbox and TV Brick. The Slingbox sits on top of your television, takes in video feeds from cable or satellite set top boxes, DVD players and PVRs and then re-transmits a video stream via broadband to wherever in the world you are. The receiving device can be a PC, a latop, or even a phone — anything with a screen basically. ‘Placeshifting’ is currently so zeitgeisty it doesn’t have a full wikipedia entry yet (this may well have changed by the time you read this).

Slingbox — which BST wrote about last year — went on sale in the States in July for $249. According to Slingbox co-founder Blake Krikorian, while it took 21 months for TiVo to shift 125,000 units, Slingbox sold that many in six months. Other similiar products include Sony’s LocationFree and Microsoft is developing its own placeshifter but Slingbox looks like the Brand Most Likely To so far. Think of it as TV Martini-style — anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

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Content Owners Lobby to Outlaw Innovation. Really.

Draft US legislation would prohibit consumers’ access to emergent media technologies.

Digital Rights lobbyists the EFF have unearthed a catchy new euphemism: ‘ customary historic use’, a powerful little timebomb of a clause in draft US legislation, which is designed to outlaw any future nasty surprises (nasty to the established media order, that is) like PVRs or MP3 players before they even leave the drawingboard. A post on the EFF’s blog elaborates:

You say you want the power to time-shift and space-shift TV and radio? You say you want tomorrow’s innovators to invent new TV and radio gizmos you haven’t thought of yet, the same way the pioneers behind the VCR, TiVo, and the iPod did?

Well, that’s not what the entertainment industry has in mind. According to them, here’s all tomorrow’s innovators should be allowed to offer you:

“customary historic use of broadcast content by consumers to the extent such use is consistent with applicable law.”

Had that been the law in 1970, there would never have been a VCR. Had it been the law in 1990, no TiVo. In 2000, no iPod.

Fair use has always been a forward-looking doctrine. It was meant to leave room for new uses, not merely “customary historic uses.” Sony was entitled to build the VCR first, and resolve the fair use questions in court later. This arrangement has worked well for all involved — consumers, media moguls, and high technology companies.

Now the RIAA and MPAA want to betray that legacy by passing laws that will regulate new technologies in advance and freeze fair use forever. If it wasn’t a “customary historic use,” federal regulators will be empowered to ban the feature, prohibiting innovators from offering it. If the feature is banned, courts will never have an opportunity to pass on whether the activity is a fair use.

Voila, fair use is frozen in time. We’ll continue to have devices that ape the VCRs and cassette decks of the past, but new gizmos will have to be submitted to the FCC for approval, where MPAA and RIAA lobbyists can kill it in the crib.

They’re only getting my hand-built, custom-designed audiophile music library when they prise the remote from my cold dead hand.

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Apple to launch ‘TiVo-Killer’

Sod buying TiVo, are Apple going to launch their own PVR?

Think Secret ‘reveals’ today that Apple’s Mac mini will be reborn with an Intel processor and PVR-like functionality. Code named ‘Kaleidoscope’, the machine will be ready for roll out at Macworld Expo San Francisco in January.

The new ‘do it all’ Mac mini is also said to have a built-in iPod dock, a feature removed from the Mac mini Apple first introduced a year ago. According to the report, sources with knowledge of the project have called the PVR aspect a ‘TiVo Killer’.

Via PVRBlog.

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TiVo Looks to Google Model

TiVo is to mimick Google by offering consumers the chance to search for ads.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that TiVo Inc. is partnering with Interpublic, Omnicom and Publicis’s media buyers with a mind to target consumers who can skip ads using their TiVo DVR. Tom Rogers, TiVo’s president and chief executive says that they are “flipping the dynamic” of traditional tv advertising by allowing subscribers to search for ads that only match their interests. This copies the Google model of advertising where only ads relevant to a keyword search appear.

Starting next spring, TiVo users will be able to set up a profile of products on their television screens by clicking on categories such as automative or travel or by typing in keywords like ‘BMW’. TiVo will then regularly download relevant commercials to TiVo recorders over the Internet, or send the video via traditional broadcast signals. The commercials will appear on-screen in a folder next to the list of television shows TiVo viewers record. Advertisers will be able to select the keywords and categories with which they wish to be associated. One payment model being discussed is to let advertisers bid on keywords as they do when buying ads on Google.

It remains to be seen whether viewers will buy-in to this model of ‘advertising on demand’, particularly when a major part of TiVo’s charm has been to allow them to avoid advertising all together. Moreover, Google’s success lies in the subtlety of the advertising message – with many consumers failing to notice the difference between a paid-for search result and a normal one.

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More Media Convergence

TiVo and Yahoo! join forces.

tivo yahoo.jpgYahoo! is a planning to offer its internet-based services through TiVo’s digital video recorders. Users of Yahoo!’s TV page will be able to click on a ‘record to TiVo’ button directly from a television program listing to remotely schedule recordings. Eventually, Yahoo!’s traffic and weather content, as well as its users’ photos, will be viewable on televisions via TiVo’s broadband service and easy-to-use screen menu.

TiVo subscribers can already remotely schedule recordings from the TiVo website but the new deal will give the PVR pioneer access to Yahoo!’s much larger user base and hopefully gain some desperately needed customers. TiVo currently has about 3.6 million subscribers in the US but it added fewer new customers in its last fiscal second quarter than it did the previous year. And even though the company posted its first profit in its eight year history during that quarter, some analysts are questioning whether TiVo can continue to grow in the face of competitive products from satellite and cable companies which offer lower subscription fees. There is also the looming shadows of viewing content online and do-it-all third generation games consoles which threaten to stall the PVR revolution before it’s even really begun.

Yahoo! meanwhile is seeing tremendous growth as people increasingly turn to the Internet for news, entertainment, communication and other services. But Yahoo! is also under pressure from rivals Google and Microsoft to expand its empire into other areas.

Full story from ABC News.

TiVo screengrab nicked from Engadget.

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Google to launch a PVR?

Blog rumour of the week: Google may be creating their own branded digital television DVR / satellite service.

Ray writes: A DVR that lets you “Log In” with your Google Account before you begin your television watching would allow Google to serve up relevant ads based on: the program you are watching, your search history, the type of emails you have received in the past 24 hours (excluding spam hopefully), or anything else Google can track. Imagine the possibilities… You are watching Google Satellite TV through your “internet ready” Google DVR.

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BBC’s content player – a blogger’s verdict

The skinny? It’s the BitTorrent for non-geeks.

Thomas Scott offers his verdict on the BBC’s Internet Media Player (iMP) which is currently at invite-only testing stage.

In summary, it’s a nice bit of software; a little clumsy at times and most definitely in beta, but hey – it’s a legal, (soon-to-be) P2P way to catch up with (some of the) TV shows you’ve forgotten. The interface is distinctly non-geeky too, so it’s going to be much better than BitTorrent for non-technical users. I’m keeping it installed, anyway.

Read the full blow-by-blow experience of BBC’s iMP’ on Thomas Scott’s blog.

Here’s the lowdown on iMP from the BBC site:

iMP is an application in development offering UK viewers the chance to catch up on TV and radio programmes they may have missed for up to seven days after they have been broadcast, using the internet to legally download programmes to their home computers. iMP uses peer to peer distribution technology (P2P) to legally distribute these programmes.

Seven days after the programme transmission date the programme file expires (using Digital Rights Management – DRM – software) and users will no longer be able to watch it. DRM also prevents users emailing the files to other computer users or sharing it via disc.

Clever. The BBC promises that, on launch, iMP will offer ‘500 shows 300 hours 7 days of BBC programmes’. Essentially, an online video recorder of BBC content.

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Stop Press

Microsoft to patent technology which charges users who choose to skip ads.

MIT’s adverblog reports that

Microsoft has applied for a patent for control-based content pricing, which describes a scenario in which viewers are charged higher fees if they skip commercials or replay sports highlights.

Microsoft’s patent application reads:

In an implementation of control-based content pricing, a content server distributes media content to a client device in response to a request from the client device to receive the media content. A valuation application allocates a cost to the client device when the media content is distributed to the client device. The content server receives a view control input from the client device that indicates how the media content is to be rendered and the valuation application adjusts the cost according to the view control input and how the media content is to be rendered.

MIT picked up on the story from TechDirt via AdJab.

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Now That’s What I Call AdverContent

“We’re trying to create an environment between shows and movies that’s so useful it’s TiVo-proof.”

So says Evan Shapiro, executive vice president of niche cable channel Independent Film Channel.

Lots has been written over the past few years about the re-emergence of Advertiser Funded Content as a force to be reckoned with the media convergent world. But few people have been doing it either well or effectively. Advertiser involvement in programme content is nothing new. The first soap operas were so-called because of the heavy advertising sponsorship from household product companies like P&G that funded their development.

But Advertising Age reports this week that a couple of niche cable networks are making lots of money out of effective advertiser funded content. In the past two years Independent Film Channel has doubled its advertising take to $10 million by fogging the line between ads and short, subtly branded films for Target, Heineken and Acura. IFC has drawn on its connections in the independent film industry to integrate brands into these short films – it doesn’t accept 30 second commercials but instead integrates sponsors into movie promos based on the supposition that trailers are the ads consumers are most interested in seeing.

Shapiro also points out that his network’s audience boasts the second highest rate of DVR ownership – he needs to TiVo-proof his commercial messages: the network doesn’t edit for content. Its tagline ‘uncut’ means not only does it not interrupt movies with ads but also that it doesn’t censor – some advertisers are falling over themselves to work with the channel.

As a result of such ventures, IFC has become perhaps the most ad-supported, non-commercial network on TV. One client is Rockstar Games, the developer of Grand Theft Auto, which sponsors promos that promote upcoming IFC films with video-game animation woven into the movie clips. Marketers are also free to repurpose the spots for other off-channel use and IFC handles all the creative production.

And the big boys are getting involved as well. Heineken was introduced to IFC via indie director Jon Favreau, who used the beer marketer in a scene in his 2001 movie Made. Heineken had been targeting independent film fans at the Sundance and Telluride film festivals and, according to Pattie Falch, promotions and sponsorships manager for the beer marketer, in the world of indie film, IFC and Heineken boast the same brand image. Heineken, in fact, now airs its 60 second IFC spots at film festivals.

This all follows a very – as BST has said before- a Give the People What They Want model. Advertisers can get on side with consumers and even get crucial credibility with key audiences by facilitating the kind of entertainment people want. In the 1950s it was soap operas, and now its independent and (hopefully) edgy film making. Advertisers need to get wise to this before their 30 seconds are up.

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