DirecTV Goes Wide With 'Classic' TiVo HD DVR

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DirecTV is once again offering a TiVo DVR to all its U.S. customers -- for the first time in seven years -- although the box uses TiVo's older, standard-definition user interface and lacks certain DirecTV features, including multiroom DVR.

In December, DirecTV launched a 10-market initial deployment of the TiVo DVR in December. The set-top is $199, plus a monthly service fee of $12 per month (which includes a $7 monthly charge for the DirecTV DVR service as well as $5 monthly for the TiVo service).

The satellite operator's TiVo HD DVR was three years in the making, and two years behind schedule. The box uses TiVo's "classic" user interface, instead of the newer Premiere guide, which among other things means it has a 4:3 aspect ratio.

"We are pleased to answer the call of TiVo fans by making the new TiVo HD DVR from DirecTV available nationwide," DirecTV senior vice president of product management Tony Goncalves said in a statement. "DirecTV has a long-standing reputation for offering our customers the best in advanced programming and services and they now have even more DVR options with this new TiVo-enabled platform."

In 1999, TiVo struck its original distribution deal with DirecTV. Five years later the satellite TV operator said it would market its own DVR, developed by NDS, and stopped offering TiVos in early 2005 -- leading to a steady erosion of DirecTV customers using TiVo boxes. Under a new agreement, announced in September 2008, the companies expected to launch an HD DVR in the second half of 2009.

TiVo is counting on deals with DirecTV and others to help its business bounce back from years of subscriber defections.

TiVo's strategy has finally started paying dividends: U.K. cable operator Virgin Media on Wednesday announced it doubled TiVo subscribers in the fourth quarter to reach 435,000 total. In the U.S., the DVR company also has distribution deals with Charter Communications, Suddenlink Communications, RCN and Grande Communications.

The new dual-tuner DirecTV TiVo HD DVR can store up to 100 hours of HD or up to 400 hours of SD programming, and provides features including Swivel Search, TiVo Suggestions, WishList Recordings and Season Pass.

But several DirecTV features aren't available with the TiVo HD DVR, including multiroom DVR service, DirecTV iPad App remote control, live TV streaming to the iPad, pay-per-view movie downloads through DirecTV Cinema, YouTube on TV and 3D programming. Moreover, content from TiVo's broadband partners -- such as Netflix, Pandora and YouTube -- is not available on DirecTV's TiVo HD DVR.

However, DirecTV noted that customers can access more than 7,000 on-demand movies and shows at no extra charge through the TiVo DVR.

More info about the TiVo HD DVR from DirecTV is available at www.directv.com/tivo.

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