Friday, 3 December 2010

On Virgin Tivo, there will be an App for that.....probably

One of the most exciting features about Tivo is that apps can be downloaded to add extra functionality and features. What, you thought apps were just for your mobile smart-phone? Think again! The Virgin press release goes into more details about what apps will be pre-installed on Virgin's next-generation PVR:
Built on an Adobe Flash-based platform, the latest videos, social networking and information apps will be updated regularly. The service launches initially with apps from major web brands including catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, videos from YouTube, shopping from the online marketplace eBay, Tweets from Twitter and photos from sites such as Facebook, and the app line up will expand over the next several months
iPlayer is an odd choice, considering that its already available as part of Virgin's TV VOD service. Then again, not all of the web-based iPlayer content isn't available to watch on Virgin's TV version of the service due to content rights issues, so the addition of an iPlayer app could potentially mean all of the BBC's Catch-Up content becoming available, and easily watch-able, on your TV set via Tivo.

YouTube was an obvious first choice, having made an appearance on several networked TVs and media streamers for some time now. On at least some of those devices (like my Samsung C650 TV and WDTV Live Media Streamer), certain content (like some movie trailers) is not allowed to be streamed to TV devices, and no access is allowed to YouTube's HD videos. So don't be too surprised if the same restrictions apply to Virgin Tivo's YouTube App.

Some of the apps will be accessiable from EPG menus. As Cindy Rose, Virgin Media’s director of digital entertainment, explained while talking to PaidContent:UK:
Every search you do on TiVo will yield results that include internet applications as well as the television assets. Important to say - the product we launch this month is not a static environment, it’s a very future-proof platform. There will be a constant drumbeat of new content, applications, features over time - we’ve got a pretty robust development roadmap.

We’re launching with a handful (of apps); within 12 months, we’ll have hundreds. We needed to start with the household names.
As for the future, Rose reveals that Virgin are open to apps from entertainment companies like Lovefilm and Spotify as long as the deal is right and the customers demand the content:
It would have to be the right deal commercially and add value. If Lovefilm came along and said ‘we’ve got something that adds to this’, we’d be the first ones to embrace them - we’re not precious about that. Let a thousand flowers bloom! It’s a managed environment but we’re really open in terms of who we host on the platform - as long as the commercials are right and customers are interested in it.
With the dedicated 10mb broadband connection Virgin are supplying with every Tivo installation, the potential for streaming content from the likes of BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm and YouTube is there - and in HD too - 10mb is certainly fast enough to stream web-based HD content when it becomes available via Tivo. Being a dedicated connection, it won't affect your existing broadband connection, so your enjoyment of watching say, last week's Top Gear in HD from BBC iPlayer on Tivo won't be interrupted by your son downloading the latest content for Call of Duty on his Xbox 360.

So, prepare for the invasion of Virgin Tivo apps, and lets hope none of them make Fart sounds.

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