Since the TiVo 9.4 update enabled YouTube support a few weeks ago, I’ve been hoping that the ability to stream video would be extended to HME. Since the entire YouTube interface on TiVo is implemented with HME, using the HME toolkit internal to TiVo (probably with features first implemented for the OCAP development work), it makes sense that it would be possible to support video generically through HME.
And the developer community did not disappoint, they’ve figured out how to support video playback in HME applications. It is early days and people are still sorting it out, but it is possible to stream MPEG-2 and MPEG-4/H.264 video to a TiVo Series3 or TiVo HD with the 9.4 software. That means it is possible to implement a generic video playback application via HME to stream any MPEG-2 or H.264 video to the S3/HD – or any video as long as the application can transcode them. That’s fantastic news!
And the fact that MPEG-2 works for streaming implies that it may be possible for TiVo to add the streaming support to the Series2 for just MPEG-2, since the hardware can’t decode H.264. That hasn’t been any indication that TiVo will do so, but it would certainly be nice if they did as it would then be possible to produce a generic player application that transcoded to MPEG-2 for the S2 and MPEG-2 or H.264 for the S3/HD.
Of course, this is all reverse engineered by the developer community and it is possible TiVo could change something to disable this, but I would certainly hope that they don’t. In fact, I still feel quite strongly that TiVo should embrace HME and support 3rd party developers, and I would love to see TiVo issue an update to the public HME SDK which included official video support (and official HD support, as it is only in the beta SDK today – still).
But even without official support this has great potential. The ability to stream video from an HME application means that 3rd parties could bring video to the S3/HD directly. Sites like Revision3, Veoh, Break.com, Heavy,com, etc could host their own HME front end to allow streaming of any of their videos directly to TiVo. Of course, the elephant in the room is adult content, which TiVo seems loathe to officially acknowledge. But with the ability to stream right to the TiVo via HME, and bypass TiVo (the corporation), it is certainly possible. In general the ability to stream video is something that has been requested since the first days of HME, so now that it is here it may generate some new interest from developers who had moved away from HME. It would be especially useful if TiVo would bring the streaming support to Series2 units as it would create a much larger potential market, but even just the Series3 and TiVo HD are significant as it is a growing market with the HD being TiVo’s primary platform now.
I’m looking forward to seeing what people come up with, and when and if any video streaming sites embrace this.
Thanks to reader Kevin Moye for the tip.