Cable Operators

Charter Does TiVo Box Trot

1/31/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

Charter Communications
— snubbing cable’s traditional
tech vendors — will rely on TiVo
to help it move into a future that
merges traditional cable TV with
Internet-delivered content and
apps.

Under the multiyear deal, which
represents one of TiVo’s biggest service-
provider wins in years, Charter
beginning in mid-2011 expects
to launch TiVo’s Premiere DVR with
multiroom features in unspecified
markets.

“Our intent is that the TiVo solution
will be our preferred DVR going forward,”
Charter vice president of product management
Rich DiGeronimo said.

In a subsequent phase of their partnership,
Charter will expand its TiVo-based service
with new devices, additional features and
third-party applications using the DVR company’s
discovery, search, navigation and recommendation
features. That, according to
Charter, will provide “the best of traditional
and next-generation television,” combining
linear TV, video on demand, Internet video
and applications all through a single interface.

“First and foremost, we really wanted
to change the dynamic in our TV business,”
DiGeronimo said. “It really felt like
we needed to get back up to speed with our
TV product.”

Why did Charter cast its lot with TiVo, instead
of turning to the set-top “duopoly” of
Cisco Systems and Motorola? “We just didn’t
feel like the pace of innovation in the existing
world, in which we operate, was fast enough
— and we think TiVo has that sense of urgency,”
DiGeronimo said.

That echoes the sentiment
from executives
at Suddenlink Communications
and RCN, two
other U.S. MSOs that
currently offer TiVo Premiere
DVRs with overthe-
top content. Both
cited similar dissatisfaction
with how quickly
cable’s entrenched
vendors were moving
toward melding TV with
the Internet.

“A lot of people can
put a picture up on a
screen and say, ‘We do advanced TV,’ ” TiVo
CEO Tom Rogers said. “But when it comes
down to serving cable operators, there are
unique things you have to accommodate for
each operator — and having that expertise,
combined with the UI [user interface] and
creating the best consumer experience, really
made us stand out.”

The Charter deal is proof, according to Rogers,
that more cable operators are waking
up to the fact that they’ve “fallen behind on
broadband to the TV.”

“Cable has stood for more viewing choices.
Not being able to bring broadband to the
TV is going to put the cable industry in a
position where they can’t provide the most
choice,” he said.

Charter will first offer a co-branded DVR
and service with TiVo, while later it has the
latitude to move to different hardware platforms,
“to the extent those options provide for
a better, and/or more economical [customerpremises
equipment],” DiGeronimo said.

The heavy lifting for now will involve
integrating TiVo
Premiere with
Charter ’s videoon-
demand library
and switched digital
video environments,
DiGeronimo
said.

Arris and Ericsson
are Charter’s primary
VOD suppliers
and the MSO uses
switched digital video
equipment from
BigBand Networks
and Motorola.

LAUNCH PLAN

Availability: TiVo Premiere DVR to debut in initial Charter
markets in mid-2011; across full footprint by year-end

Pricing: Not announced

Initial apps: Local news, sports and weather; Facebook
and Twitter updates; TiVo’s iPad app for browsing
and DVR control.

Initial content: Charter’s video-on-demand library,
Internet video from “top destinations.”

SOURCE: Multichannel News research

September