TiVo, Rovi Flirt With SeaChange: Sources

Rovi and TiVo Have Pursued a Deal For Video Software Company As They Seek New Business Growth Angles
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TiVo and Rovi are among the companies that are interested in buying what’s left of SeaChange International, three industry sources said.

Such an acquisition could help out both TiVo and Rovi as they seek out growth strategies in North America and abroad, those sources said. Acton, Mass.-based SeaChange, meanwhile, has recently shed hardware and content assets as part of a plan to morph into a “pure play” software company.

“They’re definitely in play,” a source said of SeaChange.

Among the SeaChange assets said to be coveted include Adrenalin, its multiscreen video backoffice platform, and Nucleus, a software platform for set-tops and gateways.. SeaChange, thanks in part to its $12 million acquisition of VividLogic in 2010, has also developed a cloud-based navigation system called Nitro that extends a similar-looking interface across TVs, PCs, tablets and smartphones.

SeaChange has also developed a stack for the Reference Design Kit (RDK), the pre-integrated software platform that is now being managed by Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

SeaChange, Rovi and TiVo aren’t strangers by any stretch. At The Cable Show in June, Rovi and SeaChange demonstrated an integrated guide and gateway built to the RDK spec based on the Rovi TotalGuide and SeaChange’s Nucleus Soft Box platform. TiVo and SeaChange have also worked together on backoffice integrations that enable TiVo DVRs to integrate with the VOD systems of Comcast and other cable operators. They also share key customers, including Virgin Media, the U.K.-based MSO that’s now part of Liberty Global.

SeaChange, Rovi and TiVo all declined to comment on the M&A speculation.

If SeaChange does sell, it would complete a drawn out process in which the company has occasionally shed assets toward its goal of being a software-focused company. Last May, it sold U.K.-based video acquisition and aggregation service On Demand Group to Avail-TVN (now Vubiquity), and sold its broadcast server and storage business to a private investment group.

SeaChange, however, has recently displayed a posture of being on the other side of the M&A ledger. On the company’s second quarter call in September, company CEO Raghu Rau said the company was exploring possible “tuck-in” acquisitions. “We haven't finalized any as yet. We are in the midst of a strategic review,” he said at the time.

In 2011, before SeaChange began to sell off its parts, Arris was said to be among the potential suitors for SeaChange, but balked at the price. Arris expanded its business in April when it closed its $2.35 billion acquisition of Motorola Home.

SeaChange shares were trading at $11.66 each, up 3 cents (0.26%) in mid-day trading Wednesday. Its current market cap is about $383.23 million.