Cable Operators

Comcast Shoots VOD to Retail TiVo Minis

MSO Offers Xfinity On Demand Service to TiVo’s $99 IP-Based DVR Client Box 3/11/2013 10:06 AM Eastern

Comcast will make some 36,000 video-on-demand titles available to subs who buy the retail version of the TiVo Mini, a $99.99 IP-based client that requires the company’s four-tuner Premiere DVR, in eight of the MSO’s markets and in parts of 13 others.

The TiVo Mini -- available to order starting Monday -- and the Premiere DVRs will work with Comcast in all regions (as well as other cable operators via CableCards). But the MSO’s Xfinity On Demand service currently is available to TiVo users only in eight markets: Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Bay Area; Sacramento, Calif.; Fresno, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Olathe, Kan.

Comcast VOD also is available to TiVo users in parts of: Colorado; Indiana; Kansas City, Mo.; Maryland; Miami /South Florida; Michigan; Minnesota; New England/Boston Area; New Jersey; Pittsburgh; Seattle/Tacoma, Wash., and Western Washington; West Virginia; and Virginia.

The TiVo Mini, which measures 1.25" x 6.12" x 6.12", works with the Premiere 4 or the Premiere XL4. It uses one of the DVR's tuners to enable the control of and access to content on a TV in another room of the house, including live TV, DVR recordings and Internet-delivered content.

Actually, one of TiVo’s MSOs customers got first dibs on the Mini: Suddenlink Communications began offering the IP set-top in January and now markets it in more than 100 communities.

"The TiVo Mini answers the demand for a simplified whole-home viewing experience and a more cost-effective solution than putting another DVR or cable set-top box in another room," TiVo general manager and vice president of product marketing Jim Denney said in a statement.

The 0.78-pound TiVo Mini is now available through tivo.com/mini and will be available starting Sunday, March 17, from various retailers for $99.99. Mini users must pay a monthly subscription fee of $5.99 and commit to a 12-month contract; alternatively, users can opt to purchase the TiVo Mini with lifetime service for a one-time cost of $249.98.

Suddenlink, for its part, is offering TiVo Mini for $6 or $7 per month depending on location for no up-front fee. Suddenlink's VOD service also is accessible through the Minis; however, according to the MSO, TiVo Mini devices bought at retail will not be able to access on-demand.

The TiVo Mini must be installed and activated on the same account and Ethernet or MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance) network as the main DVR. The device does not support wireless networks.

Retail customers of the TiVo Mini who cancel service before the one-year commitment ends are subject to an early termination fee equal to $50 minus $4 per month for each month of the subscription commitment fulfilled. The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

In addition to areas where Comcast VOD is available, the TiVo Mini and the Premiere DVRs provide access to apps for YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Spotify, Google Picasa, Photobucket and other Internet services. The TiVo Mini also will include access to various games, including Quizzmaster, Black Jack and Wordsmith.

March