Cable Operators

Comcast Reboots TiVo Deal

5/16/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

After years of trying to deliver the TiVo
experience to its customers, Comcast has thrown in
the towel.

Earlier this month, the cable operator terminated its
set-top software development agreement with TiVo, while
agreeing to open its video-on-demand library to users of
TiVo Premiere digital video recorders bought at retail.

Under their original
agreement in March
2005, Comcast had
hoped to offer TiVobased
DVRs running on
Motorola hardware and,
eventually, Cisco Systems
boxes across its entire
footprint. But the
project was beset with
delays and Comcast
launched the service
only in its New England
market, starting in late
2007.

TIVO GETS CONTENT

Now, Comcast plans to
provide access to Xfinity TV On Demand content, with
more than 25,000 titles in 80% of its footprint, on TiVo
Premiere set-tops in “many of its largest markets.” The
first is expected to be the San Francisco Bay Area, but
the companies didn’t disclose expected timing of the
rollout.

“Working with TiVo to allow customers to access our
Xfinity TV On Demand service complements our commitment
to bring any content to any device, at any time,”
Comcast senior vice president and general manager of video
services Marcien Jenckes said in a statement.

Under the new agreement, Comcast and TiVo plan to
jointly promote the capability in retail and other sales
channels, and the MSO will install TiVo Premiere set-top
boxes with its cable service at no additional charge for its
customers when the service is available in those markets.

The VOD agreement is similar to the one TiVo reached
last summer with Cox Communications, which had also
previously planned to offer set-top boxes running TiVo’s
software.

The scaled-back deal between Comcast and TiVo came
a week after TiVo reached a landmark settlement with
Dish Network and EchoStar, which are paying TiVo $500
million to resolve the companies’ patent-infringement
litigation that dates back to 2004.

TiVo and Comcast terminated the previous softwaredevelopment,
licensing and marketing agreement between
them on May 5, 2011, according to a TiVo 8-K filing
with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Simultaneously,
they entered
into the agreement on
the VOD front.

Comcast actually terminated
funding for engineering
services for
the development of additional
releases of the
TiVo-branded software
on Dec. 31, 2010. Comcast
paid TiVo a total of
$43.7 million for the two
fiscal years ended Jan.
31, 2010 and 2011 related
to the abandoned project,
according to TiVo
regulatory filings.

Comcast retains the
intellectual-property rights granted by TiVo under the
original agreement for the original term, which runs
through June 30, 2014, with renewal options ending March
15, 2019.

Comcast retains a license to use the TiVo-branded software
solution during the term, in which case it would continue
to pay the DVR firm such associated license fees.

NO USER ESTIMATES

Neither Comcast nor TiVo ever disclosed how many of
the MSO’s customers in New England opted for the TiVo
boxes. At one point, Comcast had expected to make the
TiVo user interface the “primary” option for DVR customers
in at least one of its markets.

TiVo has broader deals in effect with other pay TV
operators, including DirecTV, Charter Communications,
Suddenlink Communications, RCN and the U.K.’s Virgin
Media. In those deals, the partners are in various stages
of providing the TiVo user interface either on TiVo hardware
or running in another vendor’s box.

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