Amazon’s DVR Scheme May Be Taking Shape
There’s a rumor in circulation that Amazon has been engaged on a DVR that might permit customers to report stay TV, after which stream that content material to a smartphone and different cell units.
Amazon goals to mount a direct problem to DVR pioneer TiVo — an organization that was on the forefront of digital video recording 20 years in the past — in response to a flurry of stories stemming from a Bloomberg article revealed earlier this week.
The Amazon DVR, reportedly codenamed “Frank,” will work with Fire TV units, however it’s unclear if it’s going to characteristic Amazon Prime Video streaming as nicely.
Amazon’s Lab 126 analysis and growth middle — the group behind the creation of the Echo speaker — has been engaged on the DVR, in response to Bloomberg.
Amazon is not precisely late to this market, however its Fire TV merchandise at present stream stay content material solely from companions similar to HBO through the Amazon Channels service. The Amazon Fire TV set-top packing containers, that are amongst Amazon’s best-selling merchandise, are unable to report or in any other case retailer video domestically. Nor can they stream content material to a different machine, similar to a cell phone.
By including DVR performance, Amazon basically may tackle cable/satellite tv for pc pay-TV providers, offering the power to report and location-shift content material similarly.
DVR for Cord Cutters
Amazon’s technique might be to go after the rising “cord cutter” and “cord never” market — people and households who choose to not have a pay-TV service, and as an alternative get content material from different sources, together with streaming media.
“It’s likely aimed primarily at cord cutters and cord nevers; both groups are growing quickly as users turn away from traditional TV and legacy delivery from pay-TV operators,” mentioned Jim O’Neill, principal analyst at Ooyala.
“But it’s very likely that even users who have pay-TV in their homes are watching video from OTT providers and, depending upon where they get their broadband services, that a storage device would be worth having,” he informed TechNewsWorld.
“More than half of households that subscribe to pay-TV also subscribe to an SVOD service like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime,” added O’Neill. “If they want to keep content on hand, they very well may use the Amazon box.”
The key lacking piece to Amazon’s technique is the place, precisely, customers of its DVR would get content material. While premium content material may come through Amazon Channels, that also would go away the power to entry native content material each figuratively and actually up within the air.
“One possibility is an antenna, which is actually an important source of TV for a minority of U.S. viewers,” recommended Colin Dixon, principal analyst at nScreen Media.
“While there has been a slowdown in adoption, antennas picked up last year,” he informed TechNewsWorld.
Another risk might be streaming of broadcast community content material, together with from native stations.
“We are seeing an uptick in the number of broadcasters — local broadcasters — who are making locally generated content available online, and we expect that number to accelerate,” mentioned O’Neill.
“You can watch CBS All Access through Amazon’s Fire devices, so that content also is likely to be available to save; and Fox, ABC, and NBC all have an increasing amount of their programming online, so having the Amazon box likely would allow you to record and save that content,” he added.
Another risk is that Amazon may take the route of previous merchandise — together with some TiVo models in addition to the now defunct Moxi field — and make the most of a cable card to exchange a subscriber’s conventional set-top field.
“I would actually be shocked if Amazon would support cable cards today,” mentioned Dixon. “That technology has been on the decline, and few TVs actually ship with a cable card slot, so cable card support is lukewarm at best.”
Live content material may come from on-line “channels” and different streaming providers. Instead of offering one other machine that merely might be used to report conventional linear channels from pay-TV shops, Amazon may pioneer a DVR service for streaming content material.
“Over the past 18 months and longer we’ve seen a renaissance in live content, and a lot of that content is moving online with consumer habits,” mentioned Brett Sappington, senior director of analysis at Parks Associates.
“It isn’t just traditional broadcasting but is Facebook Live and Periscope, and now Twitch is live-streaming content,” he informed TechNewsWorld.
“Amazon is getting rights to cover sports, which a few years ago would have been unthinkable — so this just shows how the market is changing,” Sappington added. “For a company that has online and cloud services, it makes sense for this live play.”
Another unanswered query is the place Amazon Prime Video will slot in, however it could look like a pure extension. A DVR providing may permit Amazon to realize traction on Netflix, which has solid offers to be accessible not solely by good TVs and Blu-ray gamers, however extra not too long ago on pay-TV set-top packing containers.
Amazon not too long ago has been making headway within the latter class.
“A few weeks ago there was news that Amazon Video would launch on Comcast’s Xfinity boxes,” mentioned Kristen Hanich, analysis analyst at Parks Associates.
“We’ve also seen that Apple is forming partnerships to act as a streaming media portal, and that is a direction Amazon might be going down as well,” she informed TechNewsWorld.
Such partnerships with streaming media providers counsel that the pay-TV firms perceive that the market has been altering by way of how viewers get content material, and it exhibits a willingness to simply accept that extra folks might forgo the twine sooner or later.
“This likely is not a short-term play for operators, although there may be some that begin to look at Amazon Prime Video as an alternative to offering their own pay-TV services, especially among Tier 2 and Tier 3 providers,” mentioned Ooyala’s O’Neill.
“Offering a TV service is an expensive proposition, and some smaller telcos and cable companies have already opted out, choosing to focus on their broadband business,” he added.
“Interestingly, Charter and Comcast, during their earnings calls or investor meetings in the past few months, also have chosen to direct more attention to their broadband businesses,” famous O’Neill.
There are simply much better margins within the broadband enterprise than there are within the pay-TV enterprise.
“So, could Amazon Prime be offered as an alternative to pay TV?” contemplated O’Neill. “Absolutely. It already is the option millions of cord cutters and cord nevers have decided on.”
The TiVo Killer
Why Amazon goes after TiVo particularly is one other query to think about, particularly as different early DVR pioneers — notably Replay TV — have passed by the wayside. TiVo stays a big participant, however Amazon’s technique to tackle that firm is form of like a brand new good telephone producer wanting to focus on BlackBerry right now.
“It is strange that Amazon would be thinking about TiVo,” famous nScreen Media’s Dixon.
“There are so many solutions out there already, and most pay-TV service operators have ways to watch content on mobile devices anyway,” he mentioned, “so I am not sure who Amazon is even targeting right now.”
Perhaps the BlackBerry comparability is apt, as TiVo is not only a retail providing.
“Today TiVo’s significant business is with pay-TV operators, including in Europe, where there are TiVo boxes that are a premium offering,” mentioned Parks Associates’ Sappington.
“Today TiVo is almost a software player,” he added, “but another comparison is how Roku had success as a set-top device but now they are in smart TVs and other things.”
The DVR market has been a aggressive one. While TiVo has endured, many rivals — together with Replay TV and Moxi — haven’t been as fortunate. Amazon’s try to enter this market might be a dangerous one.
“The devil is really in the details, knowing that Amazon has been consistently launching products within areas it knows,” famous Sappington.
“What we know is that it will be related to Fire TV and that it will have a strong online component, and we must remember that Amazon Video is already the second largest OTT service, so it makes sense that it will be part of this DVR,” he recommended.
“Selling Amazon products has been a big part of its business model, but hardware can be tricky,” remarked Sappington.
Amazon additionally may observe TiVo’s lead and have success in different markets, the place DVR penetration is not as excessive. However — within the United States, not less than — the dangers is probably not definitely worth the reward.
“Everyone enters with a splash, but there isn’t news when you leave,” Sappington famous. “In this case, Amazon doesn’t need a home run to be successful — even a single is fine. But if it fails, this will be obvious to everyone.”