Yahoo, TiVo and Telecoms


The chatter this morning has been dominated by Yahoo’s deal with TiVo, a news that was first reported by PVRBlog. (Nice work Matt!) I am amazed that the news of Yahoo working with an increasingly marginal player DVR space would get so much attention.

Users of Yahoo’s TV page will be able to click on a record-to-TiVo button directly from a television program listing to remotely schedule recordings. (USA Today)

PVR Blog points out that AOL… for godsake AOL did this same exact thing two years ago. Or for instance, the new much heralded service is not going to work on a majority of TiVo boxes out there, the ones that have been sold by DirecTV. Call me old fashioned, but could Yahoo explain how it is going to make money off this?

But what left me completely confused is that how will Yahoo reconcile this deal with the current agreements it has with telecom operators like SBC. TiVo, as we know is working closely with the cable operators, the #2 enemy of the phone companies. (#1 is Skype!) Then there is phone companies’ desire to work with Microsoft’s IPTV software platform, both on the client and server side. This could get really sticky!

PS: I could not find the press release of this particular announcement in Yahoo’s official press release page. Since they are playing the game of tit-for-tat with Google, it would be a good start to put the press releases out there…. you know like Google! Similarly no word on the “wireless news” this morning. Isn’t it ironic that despite all the Web 2.0 talk, some are using regressive thinking, and dropping a day ahead exclusives to select outlets. I wonder if that really speaks to the inherent dichotomy of being Yahoo!



I have been tracking this relationship between Yahoo and SBC since 2002. Both have done a very good job in taking it forward. I hope to see this continue as Yahoo innovates on SBC infrastructure.

Jesse Kopelman

How to reconcile with Bell and Cableco deals? Simple, Yahoo will offer this exact same service on those guys set-top boxes as soon as it is supported. Nowhere does it say that there deal with TiVo is any sort of exclusive.

Aswath Rao

Clip from Alex’s comment: “Yahoo becomes the gatekeeper between video content owners and their audience at a very powerful time in the selection process.”

Probably I don’t understand and I am being dogmatic. Has the intelligent moved to the edge only as it applies to the bellheads? How come the net is full of intermediaries and gatekeepers?

Alex Rowland

While the actual implementation of the service leaves much to be desired (it’s still essentially a time/channel grid), this effort is an early foray by Yahoo into providing a unified interface for both broadcast and Internet content. Yahoo is attempting to strike deals with multiple providers of IP enabled video display devices. What is so significant about TiVo is that it represents one of the few devices that provides consumers with the ability to both record broadcast (CAB/SAT) AND Internet videos and deliver this to the TV. About the only other platform to do this is the 2Wire/SBC device that will be released early next year. The cable and satellite guys are not going to let Yahoo send video content directly to their consumers via their set-top boxes any time soon. But Yahoo understands the necessity of displaying Internet video on the TV to really demonstrate the power of the broadband video concept to the average consumer. So, I would look at this as a test case of what is to come (especially if CableCard ever gets out the door at which point the number of open cab/sat/internet devices will explode.)

As to how TiVo/Yahoo will make money. First of all, if you can shift the process of show selection from the TV to the PC, then Yahoo becomes the gatekeeper between video content owners and their audience at a very powerful time in the selection process. Think about it. An advertisement for a TV show in a magazine or on TV is fine, but the viewer is unable to make the decision to watch that show during the promotion (or at least not without exerting substantial additional effort). If the show is being promoted at the same place the viewer is making the decision to record the show, this is a very valuable relationship with the consumer. There are also substantial opportunities to sell Internet video assets through the same mechanism. There are also other profit opportunities related to advertising, but you get the drift.

Finally, as it relates to SBC. Yahoo wants to render SBC, Comcast and every other carrier into a provider of physical delivery (dumb pipes). Deals struck with Yahoo and the like are done out of desperation by the carriers who need Yahoo far more than Yahoo needs them. The math of this equation is only going to continue to shift in favor of Yahoo as time progresses.

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