TiVo’s Rogers: Local Storage Still Trumps the Cloud

TiVo’s Baseline Service Has Become Increasingly Cloud-Based, But Home Storage ‘Has Much Better Functionality Right Now,’ Exec Says

Even as TiVo’s underlying service functions continue to become more and more cloud-based, don’t expect the company to develop a network-based DVR product that would accommodate its retail platform anytime soon.

According to TiVo CEO Tom Rogers, the company doesn’t particularly care if the storage occurs locally in the device or in the cloud, but still believes that its historic approach with in-home storage still holds inherent advantages. TiVo’s new "Roamio" retail product line relies on local storage, but coming out-of-home streaming capabilities will give those devices some of the advantages that a cloud DVR could possess, namely access to stored content whether the customer is at home or on the go.

“You haven’t seen a huge amount of operator demand yet for DVR in the cloud,” Rogers told Multichannel News on Tuesday. “The reason for that, even though everybody knows that over time there will be a migration toward the cloud, is that local storage still has much better functionality right now.”

But, if all sides were equal, TiVo would be indifferent on the matter. “We don’t really care where the storage is, whether it’s cloud-based or in the home,” he said.

And when it comes to TiVo’s MSO strategy, the trend is toward porting TiVo’s software to other people’s hardware. “So we don’t really have a proprietary stake in where the storage resides. Our whole business is about providing the user interface and the user experience and the applications and the overall value that comes from a framing of the TV content, not where the storage resides…a lot of the TiVo service is already in the cloud.”

In the U.S., cloud DVR services represent a growing yet minor trend. Cablevision Systems launched a cloud DVR product  in January 2011, and recently rebranded the service with more storage and an upgrade that lets users record up to 10 programs at once. Comcast is testing a Cloud DVR product that will work with its coming “X2” upgrade, but has not announced a rollout schedule. Cablevision’s cloud DVR product is currently limited to set-top boxes. Comcast’s version will be made to support IP-connected set-tops, tablets and smartphones from the start, though access will be limited to the home network. A sync-and-go/check-out feature will let customers take a copy of a recorded program with them once it’s transferred to a connected device.