TiVo Makes North American Strides

COGECO SETS ROLLOUT AS COMCAST EXPANDS VOD SUPPORT
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While the bulk of TiVo’s recent subscriber growth has come from MSO deals overseas, the DVR pioneer made decent progress in North America last week as it landed its first deal with a Canadian cable operator and saw Comcast expand its support of TiVo’s retail platform.

In Canada, Cogeco revealed last Thursday (July 10) that it has scrapped a plan to develop an alternative, in-house IPTV solution, opting instead to move forward with a next-gen video product powered by TiVo.

A SIZABLE WIN

“We will be launching [TiVo] in our Canadian systems and we plan to do so sometime in the first half of our fiscal year 2015,” Louis Audet, Cogeco’s CEO, said on its third-quarter earnings call. Based on Cogeco’s financial reporting structure, the MSO is expected to begin the TiVo rollout before February 2015.

Cogeco and TiVo certainly aren’t strangers. Atlantic Broadband, a Cogeco Cable subsidiary that serves about 227,000 video subscribers in the U.S., started to deploy a TiVo-powered service last fall and now offers it to 95% of its footprint.

The Cogeco deal, TiVo’s first for systems in Canada, is a sizable win for the DVR pioneer. Cogeco ended the first quarter with 1.03 million video subscribers (227,160 in the U.S., via Atlantic Broadband, and 807,831 in Canada). TiVo ended the first quarter with about 4.5 million subscribers, with 3.58 million coming by way of its partnerships with multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). Roughly 2.5 million of TiVo’s subscriber base comes from partnerships with European operators.

Cogeco’s decision to switch came at a cost. Abandoning the IPTV project, which Audet labeled as “too complex” and an “idea ahead of its time,” resulted in a C$32.2 million (U.S. $30.2 million) write-off .

“We worked hard at it for a few years and have come to the conclusion that it was simply not going to work and that it was not worth investing any further efforts in doing so,” Audet explained. “So we immediately turned to other alternatives.” He noted that the decision to go with TiVo still enables Cogeco to gradually transition its video platform to IP.

COMCAST VOD EXPANSION

TiVo also made progress with Comcast last week, though in a different way. Comcast confirmed it had completed the integration of its Xfinity On Demand service with certain retailbought TiVo DVRs in all Comcast markets.

The integration enables TiVo devices purchased at retail by Comcast customers to access and stream the MSO’s massive VOD library, including its Streampix catalog. Integration of Comcast’s VOD service is currently limited to TiVo Premiere hardware as well as its newer Roamio models. Those devices can also access Comcast’s live-TV lineup, so long as they are paired with a CableCARD security module.

TiVo and Cox Communications are working on a similar plan to integrate Cox’s VOD service with retail-bought TiVo boxes. In that scenario, Cox is looking to deliver VOD content to retail TiVo devices via IP — the same way it’s delivering VOD to its “Contour” app for tablets.

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