At CES 2013, the RVU alliance announced, along with its expansion to DIRECTV holdings in Latin America, that DIRECTV RVU clients will be coming to Sony PlayStation 3s and new BRAVIA TVs during 2013.
RVU software clients for DIRECTV are currently used to deliver a complete "Genie" pay-TV experience to Samsung Smart TVs without the use of a Genie Mini Client. Because the user interface is generated and rendered on the Genie server, RVU clients, whether they are dedicated Genie Mini Clients or software-based, deliver the same consistent and complete user experience as a user will experience on the Genie itself. The only feature that a Genie has that the RVU clients lack is picture-in-picture.
The advent of RVU soft clients not only on new Sony BRAVIA TVs but also on the estimated 16 million active connected PlayStation 3s in the US represents a significant expansion in the number of TVs that can use a RVU software client instead of requiring a dedicated Genie Mini Client. This should result in significant cost savings for DIRECTV and its customers.
Strategically, the relatively fast porting of the RVU client to new platforms emphasizes a key advantage of simple, remotely-rendered remote user interface (RUI) standards such as RVU: moving complexity from the client to the server makes it easier to port the client to a range of hardware platforms.
The other class of remote UI being discussed in the industry is one based on HTML5, which would rely more heavily on the local graphics and rendering capabilities in the clients. HTML5-based remote UIs are being discussed by a wide range of service providers and pay-TV software companies. It is too early foresee how RVU and HTML5 will propagate through the market, whether one standard will supersede the other, or whether any degree of cross-compatibility will be achieved between them. What is clear is that RVU is no longer alone in the RUI space.
As a result, RVU Client portability may become an unintentional differentiator for DIRECTV, who would rather be one of many operators using RVU. When asked about this analysis, Alan Smith, a Senior Product Manager, DIRECTV Engineering said, "DIRECTV has no desire to have its ability to deliver services to RVU Clients be a differentiator. It's quite the opposite: as a founder member of the RVU Alliance DIRECTV shares the goal of seeing a robust ecosystem of interoperable RVU servers and clients develop that benefits operators and CE manufacturers alike."
The addition of DIRECTV's Latin American systems to the RVU alliance signals simply that these operators are considering deploying RVU-based services. The only active RVU-based service is the DIRECTV Genie platform. Because Latin American pay-TV services are taken by higher-end homes, those homes tend to have relatively high numbers of TVs per household and, like homes in North America, can benefit from multi-room DVR (mDVR) services.