Comcast In Talks With TiVo About 'Premiere'


Comcast is discussing the possibility of porting TiVo's Premiere user interface -- designed to provide enhanced search and recommendation features on HDTV sets -- to a tru2way-based platform.

TiVo on Tuesday announced the Premiere and Premiere XL next-generation set-top boxes, code-named Neutron, which the company is positioning as the only device viewers need to access cable, movies, Web content and music from their TVs.

The Premiere interface, optimized for 16:9 aspect-ratio screens, is based on Adobe Systems' Flash platform. The guide includes a new video window that shows what's currently playing while a user navigates menus, and also provides an integrated search feature across TV listings, DVR recordings, Internet video like YouTube videos and premium broadband-delivered content from, Blockbuster and Netflix.

TiVo Central menu

"We think the new [TiVo] interface is innovative, and while there are no immediate plans, we are talking with TiVo about how we might use it with our tru2way software platform," Comcast senior director of corporate communications Jenni Moyer said.

Tru2way is the CableLabs specification for interactive TV applications that the six largest U.S. cable operators have committed to rolling out across their footprints, as a way to let third-party consumer electronics access cable guides and other ITV apps without an operator-supplied set-top.

Comcast originally announced its distribution deal with TiVo in March 2005, and the project was beset with delays as the companies struggled to migrate the TiVo interface to a Java-based platform running on Motorola set-tops. Comcast finally launched TiVo service commercially in January 2008.

Last fall, Comcast "reinitiated" marketing across the New England market, which includes Boston, "now that the vast majority of technical hurdles have been cleared," TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers said on the company's Nov. 24 earnings call. The cable company also has said it plans to make TiVo the "primary" DVR option for customers in at least one tru2way-enabled market, but hasn't identified it yet.

RCN, meanwhile, plans to begin rolling out TiVo Premiere boxes as its primary DVR starting in the second quarter of 2010 across all its markets.

TiVo may provide an update on Comcast's deployments when it reports earnings next Monday for the quarter and fiscal year ended Jan. 31.