Friday, 4 March 2011

Telco 2.0 compares Virgin Media's TiVo to other platforms/PVRs

Telco2's analysis of Virgin Media’s recent investor day includes comments about how the cable company can use TiVo as a TV differentiator:
We are enormously impressed by the TiVo box, and we have no doubt that this is a better product than either the Sky+ HD box or the forthcoming YouView box.

The User Interface looks great and vastly improves search and discovery. That is before the forthcoming tablet and mobile applications. Our favourite bit is that [Virgin] now has total flexibility between nVOD based on their catch-up service, and user defined record+play through the PVR functionality - and it’s all done in a easy to understand way.

....What sets the box apart is that there is an in-built modem with a dedicated 10-meg connection to the Internet on totally separate bandwidth to normal household access. No-one else will be able to match this fire power. There are rumours suggesting that the reason for the dedicated bandwidth is that there is content caching and p2p technology within the box which will further improve experience within cable network segments as penetration increases.

This follows a key principle of network theory - the cheapest and wisest place to put intelligence is at the edge of the network. It relegates BT’s Content Connect service to a second rate citizen before it is even launched.

That is before the all the other features and upstream benefits that the TiVo platform offers, especially in the area of audience measurement and advert insertion - which will become more critical as more TV consumption moves from linear to on-demand. In addition, the TiVo box has the ability to add applications, such as games, within a well-known flash-development environment.

The [Virgin] plan that the TiVo box is a product for all their customers is eminently sensible and follows BSkyB’s simple-is-better philosophy. There is a 3-to-4 year timeframe to replace their current Liberate platform in all their homes. However, BSkyB definitely have a big head start with most of their c. 3m HD-boxes ready for the on-demand upgrade.

Curbing our enthusiasm, this is currently a strategic advantage, but it is one which is replicable over time. TiVo is a great partner, but whether they can keep up with the rate of industry innovation is another matter.

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