Netflix everywhere: ‘Watch Instantly’ now coming to TiVo


via DVICE by Charlie White on 10/30/08


Netflix has a dance card that’s almost full. The day after we find out the video rental-by-mail company’s Watch Instantly service will be showing up on the Xbox 360 in HD trim, we hear it’s also going to make its appearance on TiVo personal video recorders in December. While it’ll be only available on TiVo’s HD boxes, too bad it won’t be busting out of the gate in high definition. Looks like that’s bound to be on the way, though.

So now you can stream movies and TV shows from the Internet in tons of ways on TiVo, including web video such as YouTube, the Amazon Unbox service where you pay a few bucks for each movie, and now Netflix, which is free if you’re a member of Netflix (which will cost you $8.99 a month to get one DVD at home at a time and unlimited streaming). Exciting stuff.

Add that to the availability of Netflix Watch Instantly on Blu-ray players from LG and Samsung, and having a stand-alone Roku Netflix box — or even a PC — in your home theater might not even be worth the trouble.

Via New York Times


80-Hour Series2 DVRs For Free

TiVo said Wednesday that it would offer its 80-hour Series2 DVRs for free after rebate while supplies last. The box normally retails for $219.99 USD. In addition, the company would offer the 80-hour dual tuner TiVo for $69.99 USD ($349.99 retail), and the 180-hour dual tuner for $169.99 USD following rebates.

Any length of service contract would be ellgible for the discounts. Based on the length of contract, the monthly service fee would decrease. For those selecting a three-year contract, the monthly rate would be $12.95 per month or $299 if prepaid ($8.30 per month); for a two-year contract, $14.95 per month or $299 prepaid; and $19.95 for a one-year contract, or $199 when prepaid.

Check out the Tive site!

TiVo Raises Rates, Pushes ‘Free’ DVR

TiVo has silently raised its monthly service rates by as much as 54 percent depending on the plan selected, a move that has been criticized by some of its users. Effective this month, service plans with new contracts could be as high as $19.95 USD per month.

That figure is for a one-year contract, although consumers would be able to save money by extending their contract by more than one year. A two-year contract would reduce the rate to $14.95 USD per month, which would be a 15 percent increase. If the user decides on a three-year contract, the rate would remain at the current $12.95 USD per month.

The Multi-service discount rates have also changed similarly: $13.95 USD for one year, $8.95 USD for two years, and $6.95 USD for a three year contract – the same rate as it was before the price increase.

Those currently paying month-to-month appear to be grandfathered at the $12.95 per month plan under the new pricing structure. However, those on current prepaid plans would be subject to the new pricing.

Prepay plans would range from $199 for the one year, or about $16.58 per month, to $349 for three years, or $9.69 per month.

Criticism of the price hike was near immediate. “TiVo’s doing a good job here confusing consumers and pricing themselves right out of the DVR market,” Dave Zatz of the Zatz Not Funny web log wrote in a post Sunday.

Respondents to his post echoed such concerns. “Most people who are considering Tivo are on the fence at $12.95 and three years for that price is a long commitment! There is no way that people will go for $19.95 on top of their cable or satellite bill,” a poster named CheezWiz said.

However, others noted that the rates that include a box have not changed. “On closer inspection, I don’t think rates have really gone up. You’re just getting a free box no matter what,” a poster named peteypete wrote.

Others pointed to the total cost of DVR solutions from cable providers like Comcast would be roughly the same as the $19.95 monthly fee now charged by TiVo.

A request for comment from TiVo was outstanding as of press time.

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Political ads go up against DVR tech

The Horn Lake, Miss., resident lives just five minutes from Memphis, Tenn., and is being bombarded with commercials from the two candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat in Tenneesse, Republican Bob Corker and his opponent, Democrat Rep. Harold Ford.

“It seems like there (are) one to two (political) ads every break,” Ditty said.

But Ditty now has the technology to fight back: His digital video recorder (DVR), a generic model from his local cable company, allows him to skip through the barrage of increasingly nasty ads.

Fans of DVRs–those from market leader TiVo and its many competitors–have long talked up the freedom the machines give them from all kinds of commercials. Now people like Ditty are finding that the current crop of political spots are the best reason they’ve ever had to hit fast-forward.

While it’s impossible to say just how many people are using DVRs to ditch this year’s political message, few doubt, with TiVo’s increasing popularity and the growing number of DVR features being provided by cable providers, the political ad refusenik class is growing.

The question is just how much of an impact this tech-savvy crowd is having. While some leading political consultants say they’re not worried yet about wasted ad dollars due to such a phenomenon, they acknowledge it’s something to keep an eye on in future elections.

“I have thought about it,” said Kyle Roberts, the president of Smart Media Group, an Alexandria, Va., political consultancy. “Some of the polling we do, we do ask people if they have DVRs and try to gauge penetration.”

But Roberts, who said campaigns across the country have already spent a record $1.2 billion on the 2006 midterm elections, thinks it’s too early to worry about a Tivo effect on political ad campaigns. “TiVo and DVRs, in my estimation, have not reached a point yet where they’re a problem,” he said, “because the penetration just isn’t high enough yet.”

TV ads work
That DVRs could somehow be changing the way politicians spend their ad dollars may for the moment be wishful thinking among technophiles. According to David Miller, an analyst at Sanders Morris Harris Group, DVRs have a 7.5 percent penetration rate nationwide, with just 8.25 million out of 110 million households having one of the machines.

Fred Davis, who runs the Hollywood political consultancy Strategic Perception, argued that in spite of DVRs and the ability they give users to skip ads, there is nothing like television for spreading the word about political candidates and issues.

“At the end of the day, (even) if you include DVRs,” Davis said, “if you include everything, the Internet, radios, there’s still not a medium that comes anywhere close to the importance of broadcast television in politics.”

“The only sadness is that the fast-forward feature doesn’t work on live TV.”

–Christopher Ditty, Mississippi resident, DVR owner

But some experts think political advertisers should at least be thinking about the power of the fast-forward button.

“In general, advertisers have started to be concerned as adoption of DVRs increases,” said Bruce McGregor, a senior digital home services analyst at Current Analysis. “Election ads would fall into that category if (voters have) seen the same political ads the last month and want to fast-forward through them.”

Ditty is hardly alone, of course, in his bid to skip through what he sees as a worsening environment of negative political ad campaigning, even while continuing to watch a significant amount of television.

Larry Rodman, from Brookline, N.H., serves on his town’s finance committee and lives close enough to Massachusetts to be saturated with ads in that state’s gubernatorial race. He’ll sometimes watch normal commercials but has zero tolerance for political ads.

“I generally fast-forward through ads,” said Rodman. “However, if I see something that looks like it might be interesting, I usually stop and go back. Whenever I see political ads (though), I just skip through them because I think they’re all spin.”

Of course, to the political campaigns, TV is a necessity, and even if one segment of the viewing public is turned off by the ubiquity or the nastiness of the ads, there is still a significant percentage that watches. And politicos aren’t aiming high. Julie Barko Germany, the deputy director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet at George Washington University’s graduate school of political management, said political advertisers are only hoping for direct-mail response rates.

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“We’ve known for a long time that people get sick” of political ads, said Barko Germany. “But (they) still seem to do them because they work, they rile up the base and they help with fundraising. They’re kind of like telemarketers or (spammers). It annoys the hell out of people, but it’s still economical enough.”

Interestingly, satellite television services like DirecTV and Dish Network are seen as a bigger problem than DVRs because those services don’t allow targeted advertising in local areas, said Roberts, who works on campaign spots for Republicans.

“Rural voters are important to Republicans,” he said, “and turning those people out (to vote) is important to our prescription for winning. And in some of those rural markets, the satellite subscriptions are higher than cable.”

Nonetheless, to increasingly cynical people like Ditty, the DVR is the best antidote to the “half-lies” and “half-truths” of political advertisements.

“There are times when we aren’t paying attention and actually see them and then we remember why we skip them now,” said Ditty, who mixes his TV watching between recorded programs and live shows. “The only sadness is that the fast-forward feature doesn’t work on live TV.”

TiVo Series3 and JVC receivers throw DRM fit

Copy never: DRM ‘glitch’ keeps TiVo Series3, JVC A/V receivers from playing nice – Alpha Blog – So here’s one more reason not to buy a TiVo Series 3. CNET’s John P. Falcone has an article out about a glitch that prevents you from watching HBO with your TiVo Series 3 when using a JVC receiver.

“But when we moved onto another program–Revenge of the Sith, recorded off of HBO-HD–the screen suddenly went gray, with a TiVo warning emblazoned across the bottom: “Viewing is not permitted using the TiVo Digital Media Recorder. Try another TV input.” Several other programs–Empire of the Sun (HDNet Movies), Simone (HBO-HD), and episodes of Battlestar Galactica (Universal HD) all yielded the same result.”

So who is to blame for this? Well of course HBO in part for the way that they code their shows which allow for snafus like this to happen. TiVo of course would like for us to absolve them of all responsibility associated with this as they are merely enforcing the rules established by HBO.

But the point is that TiVo is the one that has agreed to provide the support for the DRM that creates snafus like this and so I blame them most of all. While it may be unrealistic and certainly not pragmatic for TiVo to pursue an adversarial reltionship with content providers (especially when they are trying to get cozier with them from an advertising perspective), I still think that they should take a stronger pro consumer stance.

TiVo of course is not the only one playing ball with the content owners. Microsoft also is and snafus have happened here in the past too.

What do I think TiVo and Microsoft should do? I think that they should use their collective clout to say no to the content providers about DRM. It’s unacceptable that these snafus take place which only hinder both consumer consumption and adoption of this technology.

TiVo. Ad zapping = good. Fast fowarding commercials = good. Time shifting = good. TiVo2Go (which CNET notes is killed in the Series 3) = good.

DRM = bad. Very bad.

Thanks for the heads up Dave and you can digg CNET’s article on this snafu here.