Cable Operators

TiVo Catches Swedish Fish

6/25/2012 3:00 AM Eastern

TiVo's software will power a new Internet protocol TV and multiscreen video service from Com Hem, Sweden's largest cable TV provider -- a deal the DVR company says demonstrates it has the ability to quickly integrate with any operator's infrastructure.

Stockholm-based Com Hem had 643,600 digital TV subscribers as of the end of March, and its network passed 1.74 million households in Sweden, approximately 40% of the homes in the country.

"It's the first time we've been engaged to deliver the full TiVo service fully independent of the set-top and DVR," TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers said in an interview. "This will be able to hit all screens in the home."

The deal with Com Hem also represents the first IPTV rollout for TiVo. Rogers said the multiscreen-video project will be a "multimillion-dollar investment to implement," which is more than the several hundreds of thousands TiVo generally needs to adapt its solution for traditional cable TV.

With the Com Hem agreement, TiVo now has deals with operators serving more than 11 million video subscribers -- pacts that are critical to its growth.

TiVo's operator customers include the U.K.'s Virgin Media, which as of the first quarter of 2012 had signed up 677,000 customers, or 18% of its entire video base, for TiVo-based DVR service in about a year -- singlehandedly pushing TiVo's user numbers into positive territory for the first time in four years.

In the U.S., TiVo customers include Charter Communications, Suddenlink Communications and RCN. On average, less than 10% of its operator customers' subscribers currently take a TiVo-based service.

Com Hem plans to commercially launch the TiVo solutions in the spring of 2013. TiVo is providing software and engineering services; the operator has not announced a set-top hardware partner. "We continue to be chosen because we prove delivery," Joshua Danovitz, vice president and general manager of international for TiVo, said. "Operators are looking for companies that can land a big project."

According to the companies, the TiVo-based service will meld linear TV, video-on-demand, over-the-top Internet content and apps, available across set-tops, tablets, smartphones and computers. The service will take advantage of Com Hem's broadband services, which provide up to 200 Megabits per second downstream.

After reviewing various options, Com Hem found that TiVo, "by way of its best-in-class user experience, its leading consumer feature set and rapid time to market was the most compelling answer," CEO Tomas Franzén said in a prepared statement.

TiVo see an opportunity to strike similar deals with all but the largest pay-TV operators that have the resources to build and develop their own guide software. "In the developed world, there are more than 400 million pay-TV subscribers that are going to go through this transition to advanced television over the next few years," Rogers said.

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