Virgin Media Tests TiVo’s Network DVR

CLOUD OFFERING IN TRIALS WITH MORE MSOs
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LAS VEGAS — TiVo has network digital video recorder pilots underway with multiple service providers outside the U.S., and Virgin Media is the first firm to be identified by name.

Virgin Media, the U.K.- based operator now owned by Liberty Global, is conducting a “small trial” of TiVo’s cloudbased recording and playback platform, Jeff Klugman, executive vice president of product and revenue, told Multichannel News at last week’s International CES confab here.

Virgin Media hasn’t disclosed the size of the trial, but the operator ended the third quarter with 1.8 million customers who get the TiVo service on third-party hardware from Samsung and Cisco Systems.

TiVo is seeing “strong interest” among some of its U.S. MSO partners and virtually all of its international service provider customers, Klugman said. He said TiVo plans to roll out the network DVR product commercially later this year. TiVo revealed plans for the cloud DVR at last fall’s IBC conference in Amsterdam.

TiVo has not identified its other network DVR test partners. Com Hem of Sweden and ONO of Spain are among TiVo’s other international MSO partners. Stateside, TiVo’s cable partners include Suddenlink Communications, Mediacom Communications, Atlantic Broadband, RCN and Grande Communications, among others.

At the show, TiVo demonstrated showing off a prototype of its network DVR. Klugman said TiVo is crafting it in a way that will allow MSOs to set the rules that govern the network DVR, including whether it can stream from a shared copy of a program, or, as is the case with Cablevision Systems’ remote-storage DVR, require that the system make a unique copy of programs accessible only by the subscriber who requested it.

TiVo’s system is also capable of storing several days worth of programming by network or individual show, or, if the rules allow, it can provide perpetual, infinite storage. It can also disable trick-play functions during commercials or leave them be. Boiled down, TiVo’s front end allows its MSOs to “dial in the rules,” Klugman said.

Most of TiVo’s service platform already resides in the cloud, so it’s natural that the storage component will follow, he said.

TiVo is developing its network DVR in tandem with a variety of video storage, encoding and transdding vendors. Harmonic is its first named technology partner for the project.

TAKEAWAY

TiVo’s network DVR pilots have attracted “strong interest” in the U.S. and abroad, the company said at CES.

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