Cable operators need to close gap between viewers and content, says TiVo chief

Service providers including cable operators need to “close the gap” that is growing between consumers and the content they wish to access, according to Joshua Danowitz, general manager and vice-president, international, TiVo.

Addressing the CTAM EuroSummit in Budapest today, Danowitz said that the proliferation of content and devices meant that “the consumer is burdened with the need to know where [content] is and how to get it – we are being pushed further away from content. The gap is starting to grow.”

Danowitz also said that TiVo aimed to be a partners of service providers in Europe and to use its own brand to boost the offering that those service providers delivered. The core thing for us is that the MSO owns the consumer relationship,” he said. “What we bring is the opportunity to encompass a lot of services in one word – TiVo.” He said that even in markets where TiVo had previously little brand recognition, including Australia, the TiVo experience had meant that brand awareness had grown from less than 10% to over 80% after a single year. “Operators can use TiVo as a value add to describe advanced services that are fun,” he said.

Addressing the wider question of the viewer experience, Danowitz said that middleware had thus far failed to fulfill its promise of creating a single eco-system to enable the delivery of content to the consumer via commodity hardware. The key elements that operators needed to address, he said, were the “input device” (meaning the remote control) and the set-top.

The remote control should have integrate all services in a single device and should have few buttons, and service providers should deploy a relatively high-end set-top box to enable the range of functions and applications that consumers now expected, bringing them back to the TV as the key focus in the home, said Danowitz. “The box is important,” said Danowitz. “Some operators go after the lowest cost boxes that do not give high performance while some go after high-performance customised boxes.

Hardware needs to be able to support software that changes over time – I’m talking about major software releases. Boxes need to have enough power to be able to do that.” The box should also be networked. Danowitz was critical of service provider models that relied on delivering a service direct to the TV without the need for a set-top. “I don’t think the TV has all the power that’s needed…today,” he said.

Other elements that cable operators needed to concentrate on were creating a user interface that should be the first input that consumers looked to when seeking to gain access to all content, including over-the-top and third-party content and home media, encompassing unified search and discovery. “We need to aggregate the aggregators. We need to give access to every title, past, present or future,” said Danowitz. “The consumer should be able to use the same account to get to all these services on the set-top and feel it’s coming from the MSO. That’s different from saying you ‘support’ something.” Mobile operators, he said, did not necessarily make money from all the apps they provided, but the experience they delivered to users was good, and cablecos should learn from their example.