Nearly three years after inking a deal with TiVo, Comcast has officially begun promoting the digital video recorder service in New England systems running Motorola set-tops.
The TiVo service is $19.89 per month, which is $2.95 more than Comcast’s regular high-definition DVR service in the Boston area.
Currently, customers who want to subscribe must call Comcast to schedule an installation appointment. The cable company plans to introduce an option for customers who already have Motorola HD DVRs to have the TiVo software application downloaded directly to their set-top box.
The development of TiVo software for Motorola set-tops took longer than the companies originally expected, as TiVo CEO Tom Rogers acknowledged at an industry conference in November. “It was an enormous piece of rocket science to work with hardware, chips we don’t control,” he said at the Future of TV conference in New York.
At one time, Comcast expected to launch TiVo service commercially in the majority of its markets by the end of 2006. It then was planning to turn on service in New England last August, but only began delivering TiVo-enabled set-tops to some “non-employee subscriber homes” in late November.
Comcast senior director of corporate communications Jenni Moyer said the operator will market the TiVo service using cross-channel spots, ads in regional newspapers and through direct mail (using bill stuffers as well as standalone direct-mail pieces). The promotional budget is not being disclosed, but, she added, “It’s a new product launch.”
Comcast serves 1.6 million customers in the Boston area. The operator expects to launch TiVo service later this year in additional markets, which have yet to be identified.
The TiVo service from Comcast combines the TiVo interface and features -- including WishList searches, TiVo Suggestions and Season Pass recordings -- with Comcast’s channel lineup and video-on-demand services. Comcast currently offers 1,300 VOD movie titles per month, and in 2009 plans to offer more than 6,000 movies a month, with more than 3,000 of those available in HD.
However, the Comcast-supplied TiVo service will lack the standalone DVRs’ broadband features, so the operator’s customers will not be able to access video downloads from Amazon.com Unbox, the Rhapsody music service or TiVoCast Web content.
TiVo also has a distribution deal with Cox Communications, which has said it expects to begin trials early this year.