Suddenlink Turns To TiVo

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Suddenlink Communications will begin distributing cobranded TiVo DVRs in the fourth quarter of 2010 -- including a multiroom DVR solution -- and the companies plan to develop a broadband-enabled service that will let customers access Internet applications on their TVs.

Suddenlink, the eighth-largest MSO in the U.S. with 1.2 million basic video subs, will offer TiVo Premiere DVRs as well as non-DVR set-tops from TiVo.

TiVo Premiere, which was code-named "Neutron," features an interface optimized for HDTVs based on Adobe Flash technology as well as an integrated search function that can span linear TV, DVR recordings, video-on-demand and broadband content. The Premiere DVRs became available at retail in late March.

Suddenlink CEO Jerry Kent said the MSO evaluated several options "to find the best way to offer a full suite of linear television, VOD, and broadband delivered content to every room in our customers' homes" before settling on TiVo as a partner.

TiVo Premiere

"We found that TiVo, by way of its best-in-class user experience, its leading consumer feature set, and rapid time to market is a very compelling answer," Kent said in announcing the deal. "TiVo will be a significant part of our future plans which will redefine our subscriber proposition with 100% digital video including features like remote DVR programming, universal search with cable VOD, and access to interactive applications like YouTube, Pandora, Rhapsody and Fandango."

In the U.S., TiVo has a similar deal with RCN, which is offering cobranded TiVo DVRs to customers in several markets, including New York and Washington, D.C.

TiVo also has agreements with the U.K.'s Virgin Media and Spanish cable operator ONO to develop DVRs and non-DVR set-top boxes with the TiVo user interface.

While TiVo has distribution deals with Comcast, Cox Communications and DirecTV to provide TiVo-based services, those are peripheral to those operators' primary DVR and guide strategies.

Kent cited the "speed and efficiency" with which Suddenlink expects to be able to deploy a next-generation product with TiVo.

"TiVo has modified its retail DVRs to operate with our video on demand systems, giving us the ability, in a matter of months, to deploy an incredibly robust software environment, together with a less-expensive set-top box," he said. "We believe this is a great example of how the cable industry can work with retail device manufacturers on innovative solutions that benefit consumers."

Suddenlink did not announce the markets it initially expects to launch TiVo DVRs, nor did it provide expected pricing. The MSO operates primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.

Separately, TiVo is still waiting for resolution in its years-long patent litigation against Dish Network with a decision currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The DVR company also has sued Verizon Communications and AT&T asserting patent infringement.

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