A couple of years ago, this would not have been news, but in 2007, with DIRECTV pushing its own home-grown DVRs instead of those with the TiVo software, it truly is a surprise.
This afternoon, DIRECTV and TiVo jointly announced that DIRECTV receivers with the TiVo software will be getting a software update in early 2008 that will add some basic features that the Series2 standalone boxes have had for awhile now: Among other things, the DirecTiVos will get an “Undelete” folder (called “Recently Deleted Items”) as well as “soft padding.” (Soft padding, officially called Overlap Protection(TM), is a feature that enables you to have a scheduled recording record over the regular program by a certain period–say 5 minutes–but only if doing so does not conflict with another scheduled show.)
These new software features, in and of themselves, really aren’t a big deal. The big deal, at least from our perspective, is what this suggests about the ongoing dialog between DIRECTV and TiVo. TiVo has said repeatedly in conference calls that talks are ongoing, but here is some concrete evidence.
Some of the quotes from the short press release are particularly promising for TiVo lovers:
“It is important to us that our customers with TiVo service also have access to the latest DVR technology and we look forward to exploring additional opportunities with TiVo,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president, Content Strategy and Development for DIRECTV, Inc. (emphasis added)
And how about this: “In addition, DIRECTV and TiVo will continue to explore ways to bring future enhancements to DIRECTV customers with TiVo receivers.”
It’s anyone’s guess what, if anything, we might see next. We (and a load of our customers) would of course love to see a broader relationship that includes a DIRECTV HD DVR with TiVo (and MPEG4), not to mention TiVo to Go and the Home Media Features, but I think it would be wildly hopeful and speculative to assume any of this is coming soon, if at all. At this point, though, we’ll take what we can get. At the very least, this press release will give us something to point to when customers of ours call concerned that their DIRECTV TiVo boxes will become boat anchors in 2010. Until now, we have explained how incredibly unlikely it is that DIRECTV would drop 3 million of their most fiercely loyal customers.