Future of CableCARD by EDITOR

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Pacomartin, Jan 6, 2015.

  1. Jan 6, 2015 #1 of 2036
    Pacomartin

    Pacomartin Member

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    You may be wondering about the future of CableCARDs given that Congress recently passed legislation that will repeal, as of December 4, 2015, the federal mandate for cable operators to use CableCARDs in their own boxes.

    The Future of CableCARD

    The TiVo editor tries to answer this question in the above blog.

    I don't think that there is anything new to people following this issue, but to others who want to read about it for the first time, the TiVo corporate statement is valuable.

    Longer term, we want to transition with the cable industry to a more modern, IP-based cardless security solution.

    It is possible Roamio will be TiVo's last cableCARD based DVR (except for more storage).
     
  2. Jan 6, 2015 #2 of 2036
    JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    I would be shocked if TiVo released a new platform based on CableCard, and I have been of that opinion since before the law was even passed. It's been clear for several years that CableCard is on its way out and that cable companies are moving towards IP distribution. It would be silly for TiVo to try to hang its future on QAM-based CableCard CA protected video distribution.
     
  3. Jan 6, 2015 #3 of 2036
    wmhjr

    wmhjr Guest

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    To me, what this means is obvious.

    1) Cablecards were a poor solution from the day they were released. I'm glad they exist, they allow Tivo to continue to function, but frankly they're not a great design, and they are (currently, and now forever) uni-directional - which flies in the face of the direction that content distribution is moving.

    2) This will mean that even though the Editor believes that there will be no modifications to existing legislation concerning Cablecard support/distribution, the reality is that the poor support that we receive from the likes of VZ, Comcast, etc, will get even worse. Think about it. If they move to an IP based distribution model with respect to both authentication and decryption, Cablecard becomes obsolete, and only hangs around for legacy use. It will be further de-emphasized (if that's even possible) and probably more expensive. Since the Cablecard provisioning and management systems will over time become useless for anything beyond retail users, more and more of the cost of those systems will need to be added into the cost, and less of that cost subsidized by the cablecos own "system distribution". Meaning, since they won't use it for their own boxes, they may will move all the cost of it over to the pricing model for us retail users.

    3) One thing it may finally do is open up the "DVR" market to more competition - though it will not likely be just like Tivo. I firmly believe that CableCard has been a pretty big obstacle to entry for other devices to get "conventional" TV. While many may still not accept it, more and more are in fact "cutting the cord". Go over to the Amazon Prime forums. Look how many Prime members have eliminated cable because they are now getting free Prime streaming Video. Personally, I think it's apples and oranges, but they are doing it - of that there is zero doubt.

    I do see this is a major major threat to Tivo. I've been convinced that if the Roamio were not the last "conventional" Tivo that used technology such as Cablecard, it would be one of the last. Tivo revenue is totally dependent on MSO subs, and they clearly cannot survive based solely on the retail market. I believe the ratio of MSO (cable owned) subs vs Tivo retail subs is around 4 to 1. And it's mostly NOT in the US. As a 2013 Wired article stated "Here in the States, TiVo remains that box you bought five years ago then stuck in a closet when you replaced it with a far cheaper DVR from your cable company". Given the loss of Cablecard, combined with new competition such as Verizon Fios Quantum (a single DVR with 12 tuners, handling 10 TVs, 200hrs of HD content storage, streaming, mobile apps for all common devices) it seems like tough going for Tivo IMHO. Also note in that release the lack of any comment about deals to "continue" with any MSO other than Comcast. Which is exactly what I'd expect.

    Tivo needs to really make some inroads FAST to be on board with VZ, ATT, Comcast, TWC, etc like yesterday or I fear this forum will end up being like a Commodore 64 fan forum. I really do think they had a chance to get ahead of this, but frankly their weakest points have always been around IP based content, network related issues, etc. Which unfortunately, are probably the most important areas moving forward. I know the MSOs (including VZ, etc) have not made things easy for VZ here in the US, but honestly, if you were in their shoes you wouldn't have either. Why would you willingly make cannibalization of your own service line easy and painless? That's the market Tivo is in, and it's a survival of the fittest market.
     
  4. Jan 6, 2015 #4 of 2036
    JosephB

    JosephB Member

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    Unfortunately I think the retail TiVo market is dead when cable companies transition to IP. It's been clear from the beginning, and it continues to become even stronger, that MVPDs (cable, satellite, telco, and now internet based) want 100% control over the "customer experience". We as TiVo customers buy TiVos based on the user interface and features, but the FCC and Congress just want "third party hardware" on the market. The new "app" based ecosystem will satisfy regulators, I'm afraid, which means the "third party" hardware market will be nothing more than Rokus and game consoles. As everything moves to IP, that means it will be encapsulated in the app of the provider. Expecting raw IP video streams based on an open encryption and conditional access standard is likely a pipe dream. TiVo's only hope going forward will be to partner with MSOs and internet-based OTT providers to start building IP interfaces for network delivery of live and recorded content. DVRs will be dead when we're getting everything over IP because we'll never record anything ourselves.
     
  5. Jan 6, 2015 #5 of 2036
    wmhjr

    wmhjr Guest

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    I agree with you mostly. I don't think Congress even cares, to be honest. I've been saying for a few years that I think Tivos retail days are numbered. It's why I'm terribly disappointed with their quality issues, as if they really want to make a fight for their life, they need to be virtually flawless. And they have not even been close IMHO. Only folks like on this site really care about Tivo. The general population truly thinks any time shifting device is a "Tivo".

    The bigger issue is that because of the quality issues, and because Tivo has tried to strong-arm MSOs in the past, there is very little reason for an MSO to want to partner with Tivo in the IP-enabled content delivery market. At least in the US. Look at Tivo quarterly releases. Where is their sub growth really at? Not in the US - even with MSOs. I think Tivo burned those bridges, and they will never be rebuilt. When content distribution continues to shift away from a focus on predominantly live broadcast to menu selections that don't have time slots, Tivo really has no significant advantage over Roku, AppleTV or anybody else in terms of UI. Think about this. Roku sold 3.1 million devices - in a quarter. The same quarter when Tivo added 328 thousand.

    I'm positioning my home right now to reduce TV cost with Tivos as much as possible. As of the end of this week, I will be paying Tivo zero (nothing left on anything but lifetime). I'll be paying VZ for content, and 2 cable cards. My intent is to then just let everything sit for at least 2 yrs. When this system starts to break down, I would likely temporarily move to a Verizon powered system (such as Fios Quantum TV) for a while to buy more time without investing. Because I think like you, I think that what we'll be using in 10 yrs for example, won't even remotely resemble what we have today. I have zero faith in CableCard beyond another 2 yrs. And think about the cost for me to replace what I have with "new" Tivo type stuff. Two Roamio Pros with lifetime, a bunch of Minis with lifetime... At current costs, to buy what I have right now would be an investment of $1933 including tax, plus lifetime service on the two Roamio Pros, which would be a minimum of another $800, for a total of $2733. That is IMHO simply absurd given the changing market and environment.
     
  6. Jan 6, 2015 #6 of 2036
    trip1eX

    trip1eX imo, afaik, feels like to me, *exceptions, ~aprox

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    Meh as the article says cablecard operators have deployed 50 million cablecard devices into the wild. They can't replace those overnight.

    And if tuners go then Tivo goes. That's the only area where Tivo has any advantage left. Tuner-based recording.

    And considering that on-demand streaming means no skipping commericals then content providers have every incentive to help the industry move to that model of content delivery.
     
  7. Jan 6, 2015 #7 of 2036
    Pacomartin

    Pacomartin Member

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    I think TiVo knows that it's future long term is working with MVPDs.

    Everything in electronics has a lifespan. At 16 years old DVR's are reasonably healthy, and will probably last for as long VCR's.

    Technologies don't really die. Look at AM radio which has been an obsolete technology for decades. People are still making money with AM radio. Live TV is not going to vanish in twenty years. It may contain more and more rubbish, as all the valuable programs shift to VOD where there is more control.
     
  8. Jan 6, 2015 #8 of 2036
    tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

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    Just a point of clarification. Verizon does not have a single DVR with 12 tuners. They give you 2 6-tuner DVRs.
     
  9. Jan 6, 2015 #9 of 2036
    wmhjr

    wmhjr Guest

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    In the US, you sure can't see this by their actions. I see no evidence that Tivo realizes this in the US - or perhaps more accurately, maybe it's just that Tivo is willing to write off the US market.

    I can't begin to say how strongly I disagree with the above comments. DVRs are only "healthy" or of value if they can get content. This entire issue is about the absolute fact that the means of delivering that content is going to change. If you have the opinion that Cablecard (which is factually a core requirement for these units to get content) will be around in 16 yrs, I think you're going to be in an incredibly small percentage of believers. And if you take out the CableCard from either of my Tivo Roamios, then my home turns into a home with nothing other than a bunch of very very expensive (and frankly not as good) Rokus or FireTVs.

    Second, AM radio requires no special means to receive that signal. It is not even remotely an apples to apples comparison. Technologies die every single solitary day.

    How long were you able to get Betamax tapes? 8-track tapes? What was the lifespan of that technology? Laser Disc? Quadraphonic vinyl?

    And nobody said Live TV would "vanish". Read the comment. I said that the "focus" would shift away from "predominantly live broadcast". Meaning the "emphasis" or the "focus". Not the totality.
     
  10. Jan 6, 2015 #10 of 2036
    wmhjr

    wmhjr Guest

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    Is that true? To be honest, I don't have one but just looked at the marketing material. Not really of any real consequence to be honest, as from a functional perspective it's the same thing, right?

    Do you have any more real details about the product? I have not spent that much time other than on their product description page where it lays out the capabilities. I don't even know the pricing.
     
  11. Jan 6, 2015 #11 of 2036
    tarheelblue32

    tarheelblue32 Well-Known Member

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    This is the box:

    http://www.verizon.com/support/resi...rs/equipment+issues/questionsone/vms1100.htm#

    There is a user manual for it on that page that you can read through if you want. It very clearly shows that it only has 6 tuners.
     
  12. Jan 6, 2015 #12 of 2036
    wmhjr

    wmhjr Guest

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    Thank you! I have briefly scanned through it, and it's interesting. For example, audio sync capability built in to be either off, manual where you can dictate on the box itself, or auto where it takes a command from a connected device (such as an AVR or TV). Pretty interesting.
     
  13. Jan 6, 2015 #13 of 2036
    zalusky

    zalusky Well-Known Member TCF Club

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    There will be a market for an integrated view/launch of service provider content which may include linear video. Tivo is doing that somewhat today. The question is what kind API infrastructure will these providers allow.
     
  14. Jan 6, 2015 #14 of 2036
    slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    Agreed with most of what you've posted here until you got to this statement - as mentioned in the blog, Comcast has committed to support cards for many more years (IIRC it was 2020 in the agreement). And as mentioned there are a zillion of them already deployed. I fully expect to be able to use my Roamio on Comcast for 4-5 years minimum and by then it's way more than paid for itself.

    I would be much more concerned that as mentioned here, apps will be the way going forward and not open IP stream access. That is the battle that must be fought to keep the user experience in third party hands and not the MSOs, and as also mentioned above I don't think Congress or the FCC cares.
     
  15. Jan 6, 2015 #15 of 2036
    wmhjr

    wmhjr Guest

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    slowbiscuit, I think we're "sort of" saying the same thing. I don't think our Roamios will be non-usable in the next 4-5 years (assuming Tivo is still doing OK, that is). However, what I mean is this. Yes, Comcast (and ONLY Comcast) has made that commitment. But stating that they will "support CableCard" means nothing other than in theory, CableCard will technically be viable for legacy systems. It does not mean that it will be supported even "as well" as it is today. It also doesn't make a commitment on how much they'll charge per CableCard. They could easily increase per card fees to $15 or $20. What could anybody do about it? If at the same time they released an IP based replacement of some sort, it would do nothing for Tivo.

    And what if Comcast is the only one that does this. Nobody else has thus far jumped on that wagon. As for as replacing CC boxes they have, it all depends. In this case, it just might make more business sense to accelerate the replacement of CC supported equipment when that time comes, as they just might for a change see an offset in equipment rental subs.

    My point is that beyond about 2 yrs, I think CC support itself will be somewhat more of an "orphan" than it is today. Not only will it not be better, but I believe in fact it will be much worse. Will it work? Yes - for a while. Will costs stay the same? Probably not - they'll likely go up. The MSOs are in fact allowed to pass along cost increases to their customers, and as a ratio, rented CableCards would see a higher per unit operating cost. But would it be worth, right now, spending the amount I mentioned to replace all my equipment? I don't think so. Over 3 yrs it would work out to $86/month assuming CC rental prices stayed the same. I just don't think I'd make that bet right this minute. For sure, in let's say a year, there is no friggin way I'd bet on it. With the ban being repealed, every day from now is increased risk that your investment will end up orphaned. Given the alternatives, the fact that from what I understand retail subs in the US have only outpaced churn in one quarter - the other quarters have seen sub decline, and the fact that the younger generation in particular is more apt to "cut the cord", it just is difficult to not see risk. If there were a contractual agreement between Tivo and ALL the major MSOs to not only continue support of CC until at least 2020, at the same "general" rates, then maybe. Like you, my existing stuff (including a couple minis I ordered with free lifetime, to retire a Premier and something else) will have ended up paying for itself. But that's because I started getting the use from them with the most recent addition other than those new minis was in March 2013. So I've already gotten almost 2 yrs of lifetime, etc from the 2 Roamios, the minis, the HD (at another location), etc.
     
  16. Jan 6, 2015 #16 of 2036
    atmuscarella

    atmuscarella Well-Known Member

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    I guess maybe I am missing something. Do people believe the FCC isn't going to mandate a software replacement for cable cards? I assumed that was the next step, if that is so no reason a cable card DVR/device couldn't also support the new software system. My assumption was that TiVo's next DVRs would be able to do this (if the Roamio's cann't already do it).

    Also I don't see the masses wanting to replace "live" TV with a completely on demand Netflix type system anytime soon. Delivering live TV via IP (like AT&T Uverse does) doesn't change anything versus traditional cable, AT&T's DVRs work just the same as cable and satellite DVRs do.

    Frankly the 2 satellite companies would eat any cable company alive that moved to system where DVRs didn't work and the users couldn't record anything. They already use their superior DVRs as one of the main competitive edges and Dish even has commercial auto skip available for many channels.
     
  17. Jan 6, 2015 #17 of 2036
    wmhjr

    wmhjr Guest

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    I don't think there is the slightest possibility that Roamios could adopt a new "non-CableCard" system. From a technical aspect, I just can't fathom any possible way that you could reverse engineer back to a CC based unit being able to somehow integrate into a non-CC system. That is, other than the obvious of keeping all the CableCard provisioning and management infrastructure around just for CableCards. As for the "Next Tivo DVRs" being able to do this, I think the point is that retail subscriptions are simply insufficient. Look at Tivos financials. Look where the only growth is. It's overseas, and from MSO contracts. In the US retail market, take out Minis, and it's simply a pretty meager market share. So the question is, in the fact of ever increasing competition, will Tivo even bother to design, manufacture and release a new non-CableCard product? I think no. Clearly, that's just my guess, but it sure looks like a bad financial decision on their part.


    I simply don't understand why people keep saying this. Nobody is saying that "Live TV" will be totally eliminated. The point is that the fact is - and it is fact - viewing habits have changed dramatically, and where 20 yrs ago, it was ALL pretty much live TV in general, it has continued to change over time. The point is that there is monumentally less emphasis on live broadcast today than there was even 5 years ago. And that pendulum is continuing to swing in one direction. Furthermore, it's not that ATT's DVRs work differently than cable, Sat or VZ. It's that they ALL work differently than they used to, and more and more of their use is non-live. Keep in mind this. There have been more Rokus sold in a single quarter in 2013 than there were retail Tivos in 2013 and 2014 combined. That should get your attention. It has Tivos. Look at the feature sets added to our Tivos. What is it? Apps. On-Demand. No storage. Look at the on-demand libraries for VZ. Not PPV. On demand. Free. Look at Amazon Prime. Look at the current generation of kids turning into adults. No home phones. Only mobile. No cable. They stream EVERYTHING. Times are changing.
     
  18. Jan 6, 2015 #18 of 2036
    wmhjr

    wmhjr Guest

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    This, is patently untrue. The Sat providers are under key constraints when it comes to bandwidth. They don't have the benefit of fiber. They also require line of sight, and they provide no real capability for broadband delivery.

    This is old fashioned thinking. What was important 10 yrs ago, 5 yrs ago, or even 2 yrs ago is not the same is what is important today. Frankly, the biggest market play for the DBS folks is still in rural areas, where fiber is simply not feasible from a cost/benefit perspective. The more urban the environment, the least advantageous DBS will be - PARTICULARLY given the increased dependency on bigger and bigger pipes. DBS Broadband latency is a joke. It is fine for uni-directional or half duplex needs as it's "capacity" can be OK. But it's latency is utterly horrid.
     
  19. Jan 6, 2015 #19 of 2036
    Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

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    The current law still requires there to be a something that 3rd party hardware can use to access encrypted content. However it's a bit vague in the details so it doesn't specifically require CableCARDs.

    I think the big issue is who gets to control the user experience. When they were working on the CableCARD 2.0 spec, which would allow 2 way communication, there was a major disagreement between the CE manufacturers and the MSOs. The MSOs wanted to use a technology called OCAP that allowed them to download a complete UI to the CE box. So basically all retail boxes would look and act exactly the same as the leased boxes. Eliminating any competitive edge a company like TiVo might have from it's unique UI. The CE manufacturers eventually rejected the spec and the whole thing fell apart.

    These days we appear to be moving toward using DLNA CVP-2, which includes a similar feature called RUI (Remote UI) which allows the host to present the UI to the client as an HTML5 app. What's not clear, at least to me from the public documents, is whether or not the RUI is required or optional. If it's required then we're basically back in the same boat as OCAP. We'll be able to buy 3rd party hardware but the user experience will be completely controlled by the MSO.

    In the intermediate there will be sort of hybrid devices. Hosts will use CableCARDs or integrated security to record linear TV channels, then feed those to CVP-2 clients using a RUI built into the host box. This RUI could be TiVo's, your MSO's, or whoever makes the host device. However eventually they want to move the host up the chain so that you're CVP-2 clients are communicating directly with the MSO head end. At that point the RUI will be completely controlled by your MSO unless there is some optional API that devices like TiVo can use to act as an intermediate to record content locally and serve up a RUI of their own to other CVP-2 clients around the house. I'm currently trying to get my hands on the actual CVP-2 spec to see if that's possible, but their website is currently broken and not letting me in.
     
  20. Jan 6, 2015 #20 of 2036
    wmhjr

    wmhjr Guest

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    Dan, My understanding is that it is in fact the blow-up and failure to get back on track for CC2.0 that resulted in the law change. Specifically, because the need for bidirectional communications and the failure to get agreement on a 2.0 spec that would allow CC to do this resulted in the effective abolishment of specifying CableCard as a solution.

    The net result is that I think you and I are saying the same thing. They still have to execute on "some" technical means to split out authentication and enable 3rd party devices. However, there sure doesn't seem to be any requirements for what that must look like, or where the UI lives. OCAP isn't new, neither is DCAS. IIRC, the CVP-2 guidelines or references were just made public a year ago, so it's still early days yet. I know I'm not anywhere near as up to speed as you are abut this, but I'd tend to agree with your comments.

    Times have changed, and even CE manufacturers have recognized this. I think in the long run what we'll see is a more homogenous suite of products with less differentiation in the interface (unfortunately) but more capability. Less dependency on local record/storage, and far more "on demand" feature/function. Video quality will likely decrease, as operators will sacrifice BitRate in favor of increased capacity, and because most customers just don't know any better. We all know people who have HD sets attached to HD boxes and watch channels in SD that are also available in HD. They just don't care.

    I would also tend to bet that even if there is an optional API to allow for "Tivo-Like" local recording of content, the only real interested party will be a handful of exclusive and off the beaten track solution designers (such as for massive high end media centers perhaps) and somebody like Tivo - if they are still interested. The problem is not just whether or not it's technically feasible. The problem is whether or not the investment, manufacturing and support costs can possibly compete with a "cloud" solution that is portable, fast and easy to deploy, and has very little in the way of "last mile" or "local" operating expense. I don't think so.

    Think of the average consumer, if they had what they would think is a "DVR in the cloud" (as opposed to what we have today - a DVR that doesn't do much without the cloud). If your local device fails, your content is protected. No binding of MAC ID etc that results in the destruction of recorded content if your local device fails. Portability of content. Deployment as fast as software deployment. Honestly, there are some very real advantages that MSOs will be able to use to their advantage. Sure there are disadvantages too, but remember your customer.
     

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