September 23, 2015
Simple.tv — the company that has been trying to reinvent the DVR since 2012 — is about to launch ShowDrive, which allows users to record and playback up to 1,000 hours of TV programming from the cloud to Internet-connected TVs, streaming devices and mobile phones. Unlike Aereo, whose live TV and time-shifted TV DVR was killed by a Supreme Court ruling that it didn’t substantially differ from a cable operator, Simple.tv’s technology is based on technology that has standing in past legal cases.
The company will unveil ShowDrive first as a beta test in the U.K., in partnership with an as-of-yet unnamed consumer electronics manufacturer, says Variety, which reports that TV viewers there, with a ShowDrive Freeview box, can “tap into the country’s digital terrestrial broadcast system to watch and record shows from networks like BBC, ITV and Channel 4.”
The box plugs into any new TV and shows a programming guide of choices to record. A mobile app that integrates data from third-party streaming services will allow consumers to get episodes of shows they missed. British users will pay £1 (about $1.55) per month for 100 hours of cloud recording capability, and £5 for 1000 hours.
To get to this point, Simple.tv — which launched a networked DVR that recorded to a hard drive in 2012 and a second-generation device in 2013 with TV tuner manufacturer SiliconDust — brought on David Trescot, formerly with Adobe and Harmonic, as its chief executive and raised $5 million in new funding.
Prior to its CES 2016 debut in the U.S., Simple.tv plans to seek partnerships with TV manufacturers, to add the cloud DVR directly to TV sets, obviating the need for an external box. The company, says Trescot, will support existing Simple.tv hardware, and “eventually offer users of legacy devices incentives to switch to the new service.”
The cloud is only used for storage and transcoding, notes Variety, “much in the same way Cablevision and Comcast do it with their cloud DVRs.” Since ShowDrive doesn’t require a cable subscription, however, its usage could encourage more cord cutting.