CES: News from ivi.tv

Todd Weaver, founder of ivi.tvProgram note: This blog post comes to you from the Hub at the NBC Universal booth at CES. Thanks for inviting me!

Todd Weaver, founder and head of ivi.tv, paused after his second panel session here at CES to let us in on what’s up and what’s next with our favorite streaming TV service.

First, and most importantly, Weaver said that the folks in Washington were very receptive to ivi when he visited them a couple of months ago. “All lawmakers want more competition,” he said, and many of them were troubled by the pending NBC-Comcast merger. Interestingly, when the news got out that Weaver going to visit, local broadcasters called to lobby their representatives against ivi.

The FCC was also positive, in its own way, by saying that it wouldn’t take jurisdiction over ivi’s distribution system. “We had great access to all of the commissioners’ staffs,” Weaver said. In general, “It’s going to take years for the government to catch up with what we’re doing.”

The second-most important issue is the status of ivi’s legal challenges. That status seems to be unchanged. The media companies insist on trying their case in New York, where they filed, rather than Seattle, where ivi filed to show that it was not violating copyright law. But the judge in New York wants to wait to see what happens in the Seattle case.

A few more quick notes:

  • ivi’s next market will be Philadelphia, Comcast’s back yard. “We’re just taking the next biggest market in order, but I like the irony.”
  • Biggest surprise at launch: “Consumers wanted to use us on a 50-inch LCD.” ivi plans to start adding 720p HD feeds to some channels soon.
  • Don’t hold your breath waiting for the ivi Apple app. “It’s in legal review.” Which may or may not have anything to do with Apple’s TV partnerships. The Android app should come sooner, then maybe a Roku app.
  • Full DVR functionality should arrive around the end of March. “It will have appropriate pricing,” greater than the 99 cents/month for the current rewind/pause/fast forward.
  • “We expect to be profitable in less than six months.” Woohoo!