TiVo Sticks Its Head in the Cloud

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TiVo is starting to think outside the box.

Last week, the DVR pioneer unleashed a new cloud-based video platform that will feature a “Network PVR” and serve as the centerpiece of a strategy aimed at supporting IPTV services and assisting service providers with their Internet protocol-video transitions.

Although TiVo still considers its Network PVR a “prototype,” it has used the IBC Conference in Amsterdam, which wraps up Tuesday (Sept. 17), as the product’s springboard. There, TiVo has been demonstrating its cloud-based system running on low-cost IP client boxes, as well as smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. TiVo said the network-based version will set the table for other forms of time-shifted “catch-up” and “start over” services and applications.

The nPVR marks TiVo’s first significant strategy that does not center on local, set-top-box-based storage. “We don’t really have a proprietary stake in where the storage resides,” TiVo CEO Tom Rogers told Multichannel News in a recent interview. “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.”

TiVo has already forged a partnership with Entone that involved integrating TiVo’s user interface and cloud-based services platform with Entone’s Kamai-branded IP media players. Last week, it also announced a deal with Cubiware, a middleware supplier that works with set-tops and thin-client IP boxes from a number of vendors . TiVo’s nPVR won’t rely on a cloud-based storage system that is built and managed by the company, but will instead require service providers to handle key elements such as storage, transcoding, local caching and connections to content distribution networks.

“The operator could have [its] own storage [or] choose [a storage partner], and we can interface with them,” Joshua Danovitz, vice president, innovation at TiVo, said, noting TiVo already uses a “federated” approach to deliver its underlying services to U.S. MSOs.

TiVo’s cloud DVR will also require operators to implement the policies and manage the content rights governing the product.

TiVo is also eyeing turnkey models that integrate third-party systems. It announced last week a partnership with Harmonic in which the new nPVR service will be tied into Harmonic’s backend systems. A test system TiVo has been demonstrating at IBC links its cloud-based platform with Harmonic’s ProMedia Live multiscreen transcoder, ProMedia Package adaptive stream preparation application, ProMedia Origin HTTP streaming video server and MediaGrid shared storage product.

Danovitz said TiVo already has “several different prototypes [of the nPVR] working around the world” on live, production networks, but declined to name those test partners.

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