TiVo Competitor SiliconDust Launches OTT Cable Service to Work with Their OTA Tuners and DVR

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by NashGuy, Aug 17, 2018.

  1. Aug 18, 2018 #21 of 117

    Sparky1234 Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2006


    Any pricing comparisons?
  2. Aug 18, 2018 #22 of 117

    eherberg Active Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    The LonTV video showed 'ol Lon pointing a Plex library at the recordings and having them available.

    Just having them available to access easily on the HD is a huge plus.

    If I were a brand new user looking at my options between Stream+, Tablo, or HDHomeRun, it would be hard to make another choice besides HDHomeRun -- especially if you have other items like a HD already available or other streaming devices.

    Of course - the whole thing offends my hardcore cord-cuttin' definition. :) So that stops me. But an objective review of the offering sure looks attractive - especially for somebody already moving towards an HDHomeRun solution. I know in my house everybody naturally moved away from the TiVo interface in favor of a Plex one. I could never get people to accept a return to the TiVo interface (especially TE3) - but a side transition from Plex to SiliconDust's offering may be possible. With full integration into Plex, it wouldn't be necessary though.
  3. Aug 18, 2018 #23 of 117

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    Yeah. So this new HDHomeRun Premium TV service costs $35/mo. So that's $5 less than competitors' starting $40 price point. The smallest package of cable channels that you get with YouTube TV, PS Vue and Hulu with Live TV all cost $40/mo now.

    But it's really important to understand how much extra you're getting for that $5 from those competing services.

    All of the competitors offer some or all of the major HD local channels affiliated with ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW. But this new service from HDHomeRun doesn't offering live streams of any local channels because it assumes that you're getting those for free with an OTA antenna, with those OTA channels getting integrated into the same apps and local DVRs as the streaming cable channels they provide. (And, assuming you get good reception of all the locals you care about, that's not a problem.) But, for a lot of folks, fooling with an OTA antenna is a hassle and reception may be spotty.

    All of the competitors also offer some sort of cloud DVR -- although each of them has some sort of drawback, whether it's that you're often forced to watch ads, or that you have very limited recording space, and/or that recordings auto-delete after a certain number of weeks or months.

    Meanwhile, this new HDHomeRun Premium TV service does NOT come with either cloud DVR or local DVR service included. But you CAN use it with various local DVR services if you pay extra for that service (from HDHomeRun for $35/yr; from Channels for $80/yr; or -- probably to be announced soon -- from Plex for $40/yr). Also note that, if you go this route, you will need to have the appropriate hardware at your house that can do the actual DVR recording -- a PC, Mac or NAS on your home network that can run the DVR software from HDHomeRun, Channels or Plex.

    But a big plus for a few folks is that, with that kind of local DVR, they know that they can store as many recordings as they have hard drive space for, and keep them as long as they want, and they'll always be able to FF through commercials, for no extra fee. (Heck, some DVR software, such as Plex, even supports automatically cutting the ads out of recordings.) You can't say that about any cloud DVR.

    Lastly, all of the competitors also include a certain amount of on-demand content. And Hulu includes ALL of the on-demand content (including their original series, movies, etc.) from their base service in with the $40/mo Hulu with Live TV service. Meanwhile, I don't think HDHomeRun Premium TV includes any on-demand content (although perhaps your subscription will allow you to use TV Everywhere apps like Watch ESPN, etc?).

    I think this new service may make sense for folks who already run a Plex server at home and are paying for a Plex Pass (or bought a lifetime Plex Pass), since the Plex Pass includes live TV and DVR features, and will presumably fully support these new HDHomeRun Premium TV channels, just as it does OTA channels from their tuners. Likewise folks who already have an HDHomeRun tuner, especially if they're already subscribing to DVR service from HDHomeRun or Channels.

    But for most other folks, I think they'd likely be happier just paying the extra $5/mo and going with DTV Now, Hulu Live or PS Vue. And, with any of these options, one has to look at exactly which channels you'd get and which ones you care about...
    tenthplanet and Sparky1234 like this.
  4. Aug 18, 2018 #24 of 117

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    Another tidbit: I'm reading that this service streams at 30 fps, which isn't great for sports and fact-action stuff. But that does mean that the bitrate I saw (~2.35 Mbps) isn't as bad as I originally thought, because I was thinking about 720p60, not 720p30. Other video quality aspects being equal, one would expect 720p30 to have a bitrate about half that of 720p60.

    Comcast now transmits all (or almost all) HD channels in the same codec as HDHomeRun's new service, h.264, but in 720p60 at bitrates around 3.8 Mbps, I believe. Half that would be 1.9 Mbps, the bitrate one would expect for similarly compressed-looking 720p30.

    So -- without doing an actual side-by-side comparison of the same live channels from HDHomeRun Premium TV vs. Comcast cable on the same TV -- my expectation is that HDHomeRun Premium TV will look a little sharper/more colorful/less compressed than Comcast but, since it's 30 rather than 60 frames per second, it will also have choppier-looking motion on sports and fast-moving content than Comcast.

    Also, Comcast offers DD5.1 surround sound. Don't know yet if HDHomeRun Premium TV does. (My guess is no, based on what I've seen so far, but we'll see...)
    tim1724 and Sparky1234 like this.
  5. Aug 18, 2018 #25 of 117

    Wil Unknown Member

    Sep 26, 2002


    Are they integratabtle? Or are you just saying IF they were integrated?

    I tried out the new service earlier today just as a lark and thought that was fun scanning TCM and such. Then I put away the toys and went on.

    But I just saw your post and I'm thinking if I could fully integrate this new service with Plex (beyond merely playing back recordings) that might be interesting.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  6. Aug 18, 2018 #26 of 117

    mschnebly Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    I just started testing out the Channels DVR app on HDHomerun OTA with ATV4k and I'm really impressed with how fast the channels changes are. Almost instantly. I haven't recorded yet but this weekend I'll record some stuff and see how the DVR functions. The guide is pretty darn nice.
    NashGuy likes this.
  7. Aug 19, 2018 #27 of 117

    tenthplanet Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    i think I'll stick with my OTA Tivo and the more evolved streaming services that have a head start. Recording to a physical dvr with streamed video with reduced video and audio quality ? I'll stick with cloud dvrs for now.
  8. Aug 19, 2018 #28 of 117

    HerronScott Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2002
    Staunton, VA
    That would be my issue with any streaming service that doesn't offer DD5.1 when available in the source.

  9. Aug 20, 2018 #29 of 117

    mschnebly Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    Channels DVR: The DVR feature is pretty bad and good. Good that it shows all commercials on every channel I recorded and one click skips them and it's a jump not a FF. Bad is I'm having to figure it out. I'm watching it on a ATV4k so it uses swipes from the ATV remote to access certain things and I'm trying to use a Harmony remote. It will take me some time to get all the controls down on the harmony. Over all for watching TV and using the guide it's as smooth and fast as anything I have ever used. When the DVR gets smoothed out it will impress a lot of people I think.
    NashGuy likes this.
  10. Aug 20, 2018 #30 of 117

    Imageek2 Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Riverside, CA
    I have my Harmony working with the Channels DVR. I programmed the Harmony Channel Up/Down buttons to work like TiVo's skip using the ATV's NextChapter/PrevChapter. :)
    mschnebly likes this.
  11. Aug 20, 2018 #31 of 117

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    Few more things I'm reading:

    First, it looks like folks have already found a workaround to get this new service working in Plex (with Plex Pass for live TV and DVR). You have to take your existing set-up for OTA TV with the HDHomeRun, then go into Plex and tell it that instead of OTA that you have clear QAM cable TV, then choose whichever local cable TV provider has most of the channels you receive between OTA and the streaming HDHomeRun Premium TV channels. Then you have to manually map each of those channels you receive to a channel name in Plex's program guide database for the cable provider you chose. But that's just a work-around. I'm sure it won't be long before Plex just automatically recognizes the new streaming cable channels and asks if you want to include them in your program guide/DVR UI.

    Second, folks on various forums are complaining about the low bitrate, resulting in macroblocking. (I saw someone else say they're seeing a bitrate of 2.4 Mbps, very close to the 2.35 Mbps bitrate that I calculated.) But HDHomeRun has responded on Twitter by saying that they hope to improve the bitrate going forward. We'll see.

    Lastly, folks are also reporting that some channels' feeds are off by 2-3 hours from where they should be for their time zone. It appears that this service is using a jumble of east coast and west coast feeds rather than presenting all east coast feeds for the Eastern and Central time zones and the west coast feed for the Pacific time zone. (BTW, how is this typically handled for the Mountain time zone? Do they get the west coast feed with primetime starting at 9 PM? Or the east coast feed with primetime starting at 6 PM?)
  12. Aug 20, 2018 #32 of 117

    PSU_Sudzi Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2015
    Philly suburbs
    Back in the day, they used to say “8/7 Central and Mountain” for a 9 PM ET show (child of the 70s/80s broadcast TV!) so I’d guess it’s still the same but now they just say “8/7 Central”.
    NashGuy and aristoBrat like this.
  13. Aug 20, 2018 #33 of 117

    davezatz Funkadelic

    Apr 18, 2002
    Fairfax, VA
    Where's the content coming from, what are they reselling? As I doubt they have the resources to broker a package like this on their own. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.
    OrangeCrush likes this.
  14. Aug 20, 2018 #34 of 117

    mdavej Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2015
    They are petrified of having DRM violations. The CEO once said that a single $250,000,000 fine would bankrupt them. That's the reason they won't record DRM cable card channels to this day. So I'm sure this is an actual above board deal. They don't want to risk getting fined out of existence.
  15. Aug 20, 2018 #35 of 117
    jth tv

    jth tv Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2014
  16. Aug 20, 2018 #36 of 117

    davezatz Funkadelic

    Apr 18, 2002
    Fairfax, VA
    So I wonder who's reselling this. Someone we've never heard of or like a whitelabeled Sling TV? Has anyone compared their line up to others?
  17. Aug 20, 2018 #37 of 117

    Pacomartin Member

    Jun 11, 2013
    It's actualy radically different than SlingTV's $40 orange & blue offering.

    In common with Sling & Silicon Dust

    1. A+E Networks ---- A&E
    2. A+E Networks ---- History
    3. A+E Networks ---- Lifetime
    4. AMC Networks Inc. ---- AMC
    5. COMCAST ---- Bravo
    6. COMCAST ---- Syfy
    7. COMCAST ---- USA Network.
    8. Discovery: Scripps Networks Interactive ---- Food Network
    9. Discovery: Scripps Networks Interactive ---- HGTV
    10. Discovery: Scripps Networks Interactive ---- Travel Channel
    11. News Corp ---- FX
    12. News Corp ---- National Geographic Channel
    13. News Corp: Viacom ---- Comedy Central
    14. The Walt Disney Company ---- Disney Channel
    15. The Walt Disney Company ---- ESPN
    16. The Walt Disney Company ---- ESPN2
    17. The Walt Disney Company ---- Freeform
    18. AT&T ---- Cartoon Network
    19. AT&T ---- CNN
    20. AT&T ---- TBS
    21. AT&T ---- TNT
    22. AT&T ---- truTV
    23. Viacom ---- BET

    On Silicon Dust but not on Sling $40 package
    1. Animal Planet
    2. C-SPAN
    3. CMT
    4. CNBC
    5. Discovery Channel
    6. E!
    7. ESPN Classic
    8. ESPNews
    9. ESPNU
    10. Fox News
    11. Hallmark
    12. HLN
    13. MSNBC
    14. MTV
    15. Nickelodeon
    16. Oprah Winfrey Network
    17. Paramount
    18. QVC
    19. The Weather Channel
    20. TLC
    21. Turner Classic Movies
    22. VH1

    On Sling $40 package but not on Silicon Dust
    1. AXS TV Mark Cuban
    2. ACC Atlantic Coast Conference The Walt Disney Company
    3. BBC America AMC Networks Inc. (50%)
    4. Bloomberg financial news network
    5. Cheddar financial news network
    6. Cheddar Big News financial news network
    7. Comcast SportsNet COMCAST
    8. EPIX Drive-In Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
    9. ESPN3 The Walt Disney Company
    10. Flama Univision
    11. Fox (local station)* News Corp
    12. FOX On Demand News Corp
    13. Fox Sports 1 News Corp
    14. Fox Sports 2 News Corp
    15. FXX News Corp
    16. Galavisión Univision
    17. IFC AMC Networks Inc.
    18. Local Now Byron Allen : Entertainment Studios
    19. Nat Geo Wild News Corp
    20. NBC Sports Network COMCAST
    21. NBC† COMCAST
    22. Newsy Discovery: Scripps Networks Interactive
    23. NFL Network National Football League
    24. Nick Jr. Viacom
    25. Tribeca Shortlist De Niro, Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff
    26. UniMas Univision
    27. Univision Univision
    28. Viceland VICE Media
    I suspect Homerun Premiere will have little or no effect on the larger market since it is restricted to HDHomeRun CONNECT or EXTEND owners. Only 1 Subscription needed per entire household for up to 4 streaming channels throughout the home. The extra streaming channel seems to be the primary feature that is of general interest. Depending on the security you might be able to extend use to a family which does not live together (including college children).
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
    ljiminez likes this.
  18. Aug 20, 2018 #38 of 117

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    Someone on some forum speculated that they're reselling service from some outfit called Viva Live TV. Don't know if that's true but their website does advertise a very similar package of cable channels (except they include the major broadcast nets too) for the same price as HDHomeRun Premium TV -- $35.
    davezatz likes this.
  19. Aug 20, 2018 #39 of 117

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

    Apr 17, 2000
    This is how you prevent yourself from going out of business when CableCARD dies! Good job SD!

    Anyone have it up and running? Are all the recordings encrypted? Or can they be played in other players? (IIRC SD DVR recordings are just TS with special metadata packets)
    NashGuy, davezatz and wizwor like this.
  20. Aug 20, 2018 #40 of 117

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    It's confirmed that these live streams, and recordings of them, can be played within the Channels and Plex apps. I'm pretty sure it's just a standard non-encrypted h.264-encoded MPEG stream.

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