Com Hem To Offer TiVo/Netflix Mix

Swedish Operator Gives Netflix A Second Breakthrough on Operator-Leased Boxes

Com Hem, Sweden’s largest cable operator, is poised to be the second MSO to offer a leased, TiVo-powered box that will support the Netflix video streaming service.

The operator said it will roll out the TiVo service on Samsung-made boxes on October 7, and will make Netflix available through the service sometime in December. Com Hem said its TiVo package will also come with a larger channel lineup, led by an 80-channel tier called TiVo Max, and a British VOD service called Cirkus.

Com Hem’s TiVo service, which will range from SEK 149 (US $23.25) to SEK 439 ($68.46) per month, will feature a Samsung DVR with three tuners and 1 terabyte of storage. The operator, which began to trial the TiVo package with a small batch of customers in August, said more than 45,000 customers have pre-registered for the service since May 15.

Com Hem hopes its ability to aggregate TV and OTT on the new TiVo-powered platform will help the company stand apart in the market and give its video subscriber base a boost. It ended the second quarter of 2013 with 605,700 digital TV subscribers down from 620,900 in the year-ago period.

“To date, no one has taken on the role of aggregating and integrating all services onto a single platform, thus simplifying the television experience. This is precisely our vision with TiVo, in which we want to gather, package and deliver an all-inclusive television solution that provides seamless access to the best content, whenever you want and on the device of your choice,” Tomas Franzén, CEO of Com Hem, said in a statement.

The Com Hem/TiVo integration is another boon for Netflix, whose presence on TiVo has historically been relegated to boxes sold at retail. Earlier this month, Virgin Media became the first pay-TV operator to announce it would offer the Netflix streaming service on leased boxes.

Virgin Media, now owned by Liberty Global, is starting off by testing the TiVo/Netflix combo with 40,000 TiVo subs ahead of an expected full commercial launch later this year. Virgin Media offers the TiVo service on gateways made by Samsung and Cisco Systems.

Netflix chief financial officer David Wells, speaking Wednesday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York, said Netflix will maintain the billing relationship with the customer in its deployment on the Virgin Media TiVo platform.

Netflix’s distribution rights with some programming partners have so far prevented it from gaining a foothold on operator-leased boxes in the U.S.

Wells didn’t address the U.S. situation specifically, but did acknowledge that “in certain content deals there is a distinct line drawn…it’s not everywhere, but to content owners do care in terms of maintaining distinct channels between their distribution because they're trying to understand the economics of the monetization of one channel versus another and it becomes blurry when those things start to overlap each other.”