TiVo loses its MoJo

Pop-up ads, DRM lock-down coming soon


Time shifting DVR pioneer TiVo will soon display pop-up ads when users attempt to skip commercials, the LA Times reports today. TiVo owners will still be able to fast forward, but will be forced to watch a billboard style ad on screen.

It's the latest in a series of compromises that threaten to leave the highly-regarded company offering little more than a generic set-top box UI.

Increasingly broadcasters are introducing restrictions on their programming. In recent weeks HBO announced that it will be locking down all its content to a specific device from next June, forbidding any copies to be made.

TiVo's jumped the gun, introducing similar copy controls on pay-per-view and VoD programming. TiVo general counsel Matthew Zinn defended the company's decision to incorporate potentially more restrictive DRM from his provider Macrovision, and acknowledged it was "a slippery slope".

"I think content owners are beginning to recognize that if you make things too restrictive, then consumers will find nonlegal ways to achieve what they want," he claimed. There's no evidence on offer to support this position, but plenty of evidence that, faced with ineffective political lobbying by the computer industry which has failed to alert an apathetic public, the freedom to copy material for personal use will disappear without too many objections.

Did TiVo ever stand a chance? Time shifting functionality, like many conventional computer innovations, turns out to be a feature of an existing product rather than a horizontal industry in itself (PodCasters, please note), and time shifting is now being built into newer TV sets. Nor were cable providers ever really likely to give control of something as strategic as the UI - and TiVo's is warmly regarded as the best - to a third party.

The company has an alliance with NetFlix to serve VoD to broadband-equipped households, and there's plenty of scope for this alliance to prosper. It might rue that with more effective lobbying from the computer industry, or digital rights advocates, it might have made good on its initial promise. ®

Related stories

Gates: PC will replace TV, TV will become a giant Google
Netflix, TiVo sign VoD alliance
Sony, Disney VoD JV wins EC approval
FCC awards small win to TiVo sharers, MPAA slips safety catch
Nvidia ships TV, PVR cards to US, Europe


Other stories you might like

  • The future: Windows streaming through notched Apple screens

    Choice is the word for Jamf's Dean Hager

    Interview As Apple's devices continue to find favour with enterprise users, the fortress that is Windows appears to be under attack in the corporate world.

    Speaking to The Register as the Jamf Nation User Conference wound down, the software firm's CEO, Dean Hager, is - unsurprisingly - ebullient when it comes to the prospects for Apple gear in the world of suits.

    Jamf specialises in device management and authentication, and has long been associated with managing Apple hardware in business and education environments. In recent years it has begun connecting its products with services such as Microsoft's Azure Active Directory as administrators face up to a hybrid working future.

    Continue reading
  • There’s a wave of ransomware coming down the pipeline. What can you do about it?

    AI can help. Here’s how…

    Sponsored The Colonial Pipeline attack earlier this year showed just how devastating a ransomware attack is when it is targeted at critical infrastructure.

    It also illustrated how traditional security techniques are increasingly struggling to keep pace with determined cyber attackers, whether their aim is exfiltrating data, extorting organisations, or simply causing chaos. Or, indeed an unpleasant combination of all three.

    So, what are your options? More people looking for more flaws isn’t going to be enough – there simply aren’t enough skilled people, there are too many bugs, and there are way too many attackers. So, it’s clear that smart cyber defenders need to be supplemented by even smarter technology incorporating AI. You can learn what this looks like by checking out this upcoming Regcast, “Securing Critical Infrastructure from Cyber-attack” on October 28 at 5pm.

    Continue reading
  • Ransomware criminals have feelings too: BlackMatter abuse caused crims to shut down negotiation portal

    Or so says infsec outfit Emsisoft

    Hurling online abuse at ransomware gangs may have contributed to a hardline policy of dumping victims' data online, according to counter-ransomware company Emsisoft.

    Earlier this month, the Conti ransomware gang declared it would publish victims' data and break off ransom negotiations if anyone other than "respected journalist and researcher personalities" [sic] dared publish snippets of ransomware negotiations, amid a general hardening of attitudes among ransomware gangs.

    Typically these conversation snippets make it into the public domain because curious people log into ransomware negotiation portals hosted by the criminals. The BlackMatter (aka DarkSide) gang's portal credentials (detailed in a ransom note) became exposed to the wider world, however, and the resulting wave of furious abuse hurled at the crims prompted them to pull up the virtual drawbridge.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021