Tablo, the DVR for cord cutters, is getting ready to add a new commercial-skipping feature that is powered by smarts in the cloud: The company will beta test the new feature in Q1, and gradually roll it out to new and existing DVR models over the coming months.
Nuvyyo, the company behind Tablo, announced the new commercial skipping feature at CES Monday night. The company also used the trade show to introduce a revamped version of its 4-tuner networked DVR. Priced $199, the device now comes with 802.11 a/c Wifi connectivity, Gigabit Ethernet and the option to add an internal hard drive.
With this new model, as well as its existing DVRs, Tablo has long positioned itself as a DVR solution for cord cutters who already stream a lot of video to devices like Apple TV, Fire TV or Roku. Relying on free over-the-air broadcast signals, Tablo is able to record HD programming from networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS, and then stream it to a wide variety of devices.
Nuvyyo CEO Grant Hall told Variety Monday that commercial skipping had been one of the most-requested features from Tablo users for some time. At the same time, Tablo’s engineers were trying to figure out how to do commercial skipping without over-extending the hardware of the DVR.
The solution is a novel approach: Tablo is uploading a subset of data for each recording to the cloud, where Tablo’s algorithms are identifying ad breaks on the fly. The results are then sent back to the DVR, and used as meta-data to skip ads.
However, the actual recording is never altered, which makes it possible to go back and actually watch those ads if you’re so inclined. “If we do make a mistake, the video is always there to correct that mistake,” said Hall.
Hall didn’t want to elaborate on exactly what kind of data Tablo is uploading to the cloud for this process, but he said that it’s a subset of the recorded data, averaging about 120 to 150 megabytes per hour of video. The company is aiming for turn-around times of 10 minutes or less, but is looking to test the feasibility of that in its beta test.
Tablo isn’t the only company targeting consumers with DVRs optimized for cord cutting. Amazon launched a similar device, dubbed the Fire TV Recast, late last year. Much like Tablo, the Recast is also a networked DVR, meaning that it doesn’t directly connect to a TV, but instead works in conjunction with streaming devices. Hall said that his company welcomed the competition from Amazon. “They have the marketing muscle to educate people.”