Automating the ability to modify cable set-top boxes for Digital Video Recording functions is the key to TiVo’s relationship with cable operators, said Tom Rogers, the company’s CEO.
He also characterized the next generation of DVRs as “digital video retrievers,” citing the broadband connection that lets cable customers move Internet video to their TV sets.
Rogers said this software-downloading capability “will be ready shortly,” enabling MSOs to upgrade the features of the set-top box without requiring an expensive truck roll. This “auto flip” — an automated modification that can be done remotely — is vital to the next generation of DVRs, he said, noting that the first implementation will be on Comcast systems in New England.
Rogers said it took 18 months to implement the auto-flip process for Comcast, including 10 months to develop a “statement of work.” He said that “the infrastructure that enables [the service] proved not to be very stable” at first.
MSOs are the “biggest sellers of broadband,” Rogers said, but they have not “figured out how to connect the TV to broadband.” He pointed out that a cable DVR subscriber is at the “higher end” of the cable universe, because they already use digital cable.
He also said that he expects movie studios and every TV packager to license content for delivery via Internet connections through a digital set-top box, but that it’s “too early to guess who will win in that game.”