Control Your TiVo Over The Network

Wow, this is a big find. Last September TiVo and Crestron announced a partnership to enable Crestron home automation systems to control TiVo boxes over the home network. At the time I said:

This is pretty cool. But it’d be even better if TiVo would publish the protocol for this IP interface so that other vendors, and 3rd party developers, could also code applications to use it. (I won’t be surprised if the hacking community reverse engineers it if they don’t.)

Well, neither TiVo nor Crestron published the protocol, and of course I’m not surprised that the community has now reverse engineered it. And it works on all TiVo Series3 and TiVo HD units running software 9.1 or higher (sorry Series2 folks).

Open a terminal or command window and telnet to the IP of your TiVo on port 31339. Then you can start issuing commands. The timeout is very short, so you might use cut & paste if you’re not a fast typist.

It is a little scary actually – there is no authentication. So anything that can talk to your TiVo on your LAN can control it. Hey TiVo, how about the tivo/MAK authentication like on the web interface? (Cue the Black Hats to write a PC worm that issues random TiVo commands over the LAN.) Still, I’m really happy to see this, and I’m sure this will spur development of a number of clever applications. Dave Zatz has already tried it by controlling his TiVo from his iPhone, and he shot a demo video of it:

I did some quick tests using telnet from a command window on my PC and it works great on my Series3. I also tried it to my Series2 just to confirm it doesn’t work – and, alas, it is confirmed.

I foresee this functionality finding it’s way into a number of TiVo apps and widgets to control your TiVo(s) from your PC, Mac, or other device. Now that the cat is out of the bag, it would be nice if TiVo would officially publish the specifications – and add some authentication. I am kind of shocked that it is wide open like that. And I’m serious, I expect someone to write some kind of TiVo-attack worm now that this news is out. There are plenty of jerks out there who get their jollies that way.

I hope TiVo keeps expanding this interface, a nice additional would be the addition of more feedback as to the current screen on the TiVo. That would make it usable remotely with positive feedback to the application that the command worked and went to the right place in the menus. This could be a more reliable (than IR blasters) way for 3rd party devices (like a Slingbox) to control a TiVo.

Disclaimer: I am currently employed by Sling Media, but my Slingbox comment is strictly speculation on my part on what I think would be cool and not meant to imply anything about what may or may not happen.

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MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • Glenn

    Cool. Of course the first thing I want to be able to do is delete files on a remote Tivo from an iPhone or my laptop. Which might be slightly dangerous if it really does just depend on keystrokes with no visual verification…

  • Tim

    That’s pretty cool. I found this telenet client and was playing around with it.

  • Troy D

    Oh I wish I had some programming skills I’d be all over this. I’m sure somebody out there will make some use of this and allow us to control our TiVos from our iPhones or computers. Cool.

  • Gryphon

    Yay! My obsolescent TiVo is not subject to this glaring unrequested vulnerability! I love you, slow-ass old Series2 nightlight box.