Lunching With TiVoâs E. Stephen Mack â How He Shapes the Future of TV
TiVo is a household name for many TV lovers, but few people know the man behind the brand. E. Stephen Mack is the director of TiVoCast Operations, a service that delivers internet video content to TiVo subscribers. He is also a passionate advocate for HDTV, home media, and the evolution of TV technology.
I had the chance to sit down with him for lunch at a cozy restaurant in San Jose, California, and talk about his role at TiVo, his views on the TV industry, and his predictions for whatâs next.
From Web Developer to TV Innovator
Mack started his career as a web developer in the late 90s, working for various startups and media companies. He joined TiVo in 2004 as a senior web producer, and soon became involved in TiVoCast, a project that aimed to bring internet video to the TV screen.
âTiVoCast was born out of a desire to give our customers more choices and more control over what they watch,â he said. âWe wanted to leverage our platform and our network to deliver content that was not available on traditional TV channels.â
TiVoCast launched in 2006 with partners like The New York Times, CNET, Rocketboom, and iVillage. Since then, it has grown to include hundreds of content providers, ranging from major networks like CBS and NBC to niche channels like Yoga Journal and The Onion. TiVoCast also features exclusive content from TiVoâs own production team, such as interviews with celebrities and behind-the-scenes footage of popular shows.
Mack oversees the entire TiVoCast operation, from content acquisition and encoding to delivery and promotion. He works closely with content partners to ensure that their videos are optimized for the TiVo experience, and that they reach the right audience.
The Power of HDTV and Home Media
One of Mackâs passions is HDTV, which he believes is the best way to enjoy TV content. He owns several HDTVs at home, and he encourages everyone to upgrade to high-definition.
âHDTV is not just about resolution, itâs about immersion,â he said. âIt makes you feel like youâre part of the action, whether itâs a movie, a sports game, or a documentary. Itâs also more engaging and more satisfying than standard-definition TV.â
Mack also advocates for home media, which refers to the ability to access and share media files across different devices in the home network. He uses TiVoâs Home Media features to stream music, photos, and videos from his PC and NAS (network-attached storage) device to his TiVo boxes. He also uses TiVoToGo to transfer recorded shows from his TiVo to his laptop or portable media player.
âHome media is about convenience and flexibility,â he said. âIt lets you enjoy your media wherever you want, whenever you want. It also lets you create your own playlists and slideshows, and share them with your family and friends.â
The Challenges and Opportunities of the TV Industry
Mack is well aware of the challenges facing the TV industry today, such as fragmentation, competition, piracy, and changing consumer behavior. He believes that TiVo has a unique position and advantage in this dynamic market.
âTiVo is not just a DVR company, weâre a TV company,â he said. âWe have a deep understanding of TV content, TV technology, and TV viewers. We have a loyal and passionate customer base that trusts us and values our service. We have a strong relationship with content providers and distributors that respect our innovation and vision.â
Mack pointed out some of the recent achievements and initiatives that demonstrate TiVoâs leadership and influence in the TV industry:
TiVo has partnered with Comcast and DirecTV to offer TiVo service on their set-top boxes, giving millions of cable and satellite subscribers access to TiVoâs features and functionality.
TiVo has launched TiVo HD XL, a premium DVR that offers up to 150 hours of HD recording capacity, THX certification, and a backlit remote control.
TiVo has introduced TiVo Search Beta, a aa16f39245