TiVo launched its latest HD DVR, TiVo Premiere, with great fanfare yesterday. The new box offers a lot of new features, including integration of over-the-top (OTT) video from sources like Netflix, Amazon, Blockbuster, and YouTube. TiVo is marketing Premiere as a cable set-top-box replacement, challenging cable companies and their own branded DVR services directly. “It’s the only box you need to have connected to your TV,” Tivo CEO Tom Rogers tells Multichannel News.
There is one caveat though. The new whiz bang box will not work on IPTV systems. When selecting AT&T U-verse as your TV provider on TiVo’s website, you’re met with the following advice – “At this time, TiVo does not offer a product that is compatible with an AT&T U-verse setup. If you are considering switching to a cable company, TiVo offers products that are compatible with practically all cable providers.” By the transitive property, I’m assuming TiVo Premiere is not compatible with any IPTV system. It does work with Verizon FiOS because FiOS TV at its heart is a cable system, not IPTV.
TiVo Premiere will also work with DirecTV in an upcoming version, but not with DISH. Given Tivo and DISH’s litigious past, it’s no surprise there’s no Premiere love over at DISH.
Is this a positive or negative development for IPTV operators? As is often the case, it depends. For AT&T, I suspect the impact will be minimal. They successfully position their multi-room DVR feature as a key selling point for U-verse TV – a feature that TiVo Premiere offers, but requires you to buy multiple TiVo boxes and configure yourself. Although, TiVo does allow you to transfer DVR content to portable devices, including laptops and iPods, a nice selling point. For other smaller IPTV operators who have struggled in the past with DVR and don’t have multi-room functionality, this development could have more of an impact. Should Tivo Premiere become a hit, an inability to support it might be a disadvantage. It’s still early and TiVo will have its work cut out for it, but it’s definitely something to watch.