TiVo's Denney on the challenges of interfaces and 4K, and the future of cableCARD

with Jim Denney, Vice President, Product Marketing, TiVo

Jim Denney, TiVo

Denney (Source: TiVo)

A guy like TiVo product chief Jim Denney approaches the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with a lot of bogeys on his internal screen. He's got to watch the latest development in video user interfaces and program guides to keep TiVo's set-tops on the leading edge. TiVo hasn't waded into the 4K waters yet, but it's going to have to make a "go" or "no go" decision soon. And, of course, there are the ever-present multiscreen issues to keep up with. FierceCable Editor Daniel Frankel caught up to Denney on Jan. 6 at a Starbucks in Vegas' Aria Hotel and got him to discuss these issues--and a few more.

FierceCable: You're introducing a few new product features here at CES. Tell me about OnePass.

Denney: OnePass is a feature that's going onto our Series 4 and Series 5 DVRs, including our partner MSO DVRs in the U.S. It further combines OTT recorded content and other content into one module for a consumer. A consumer can say 'I want to find a show,' and we'll not only find the show across multiple sources, but now with OnePass, we'll present the show as one to the consumer. So if seasons 1 through 4 of a given show are available on Netflix, but season 5 is airing today, or season 5 is on VOD and season 6 airing today, OnePass will present all that as one to the consumer.

FC: Technologically, how difficult are these interface features to develop?

Denney: It's challenging to put all this together. The metadata is challenging--bringing in metadata from multiple sources, getting it in consistent form, aligning the content from one source with another source, making sure they're presented in the same way. The guide itself is pretty mature. The metadata around the shows is the next phase that needs to be addressed.

FC: Is everybody in the device world working with the same metadata contractors?

Denney: There are a few key sources of metadata, especially in the U.S. Internationally, it's a little broader. But in the U.S., it's Gracenote and Rovi, so a lot of people will start with one of those two. It's what you do with the data and the treatment of the data downstream that helps differentiate it. So we'll take that raw data, and work with them on messaging it in some ways, and we'll do other things to it.

FC: Do you have a 4K announcement to make here at CES?

Denney: No, but I can speak to it philosophically. When we look at 4K, we look at what 3D TVs did, and what HDTV did. Those are kind of the three major pushes that the CE has made in the last 10 years. I definitely think 4K is closer to HD than it is to 3D in terms of consumer value and eventual consumer demand. I think it's still early in the curve, so you'll see some people who are early adopters, and you'll see some people who are going to kind of hang back. It's one of those things that in order to really take advantage of it, you're going to have to notch up the content space, the distribution technologies and the end points, at the same time. So it's going to take a lot of coordination to make 4K really take off. But certainly, in the long term, philosophically, we're supporters.

FC: How does 4K fit into the industry's multiscreen focus?

Denney: Unclear, because you don't need the resolution when you're doing mobile consumption on a tablet or otherwise. So I don't think it does fit. What I think 4K does is allow is the living room experience to step its game up one notch further. But I think mobile and 4K are almost divergent trends within in the industry.

FC: TiVo has enjoyed a lot of success infiltrating the MSO video business of late. Do you see that steep growth arc continuing?

Denney: We're happy about the business we've generated both in the U.S. and internationally. We have great partners with the mid-tier operators in the U.S., and we're furthering our relationship with companies like Comcast on the retail side. And on the international front, there's the work that we're doing with Virgin Media in Europe. There's no reason to believe the trend doesn't continue.

FC: How does the end of the FCC's cableCARD mandate impact TiVo?

Denney: We think that cableCARD stays around for a while. The issue is rather complicated. There's a mandated use of cableCARD by the cable operators, that's one part of it. Then there's use of a common standard that enables retail customers to have access to signals, which hasn't been affected by the cableCARD ruling. We think that cableCARD continues, whether it continues to be used by the cable industry for their own devices or not. We're focused on satisfying the retail consumer and working cooperatively with the cable industry on a follow on standard on cableCARD for the next generation of platforms.

TiVo's Denney on the challenges of interfaces and 4K, and the future of cableCARD
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