TiVo to Cable: Let Us Guide You

TiVo, looking for ways to grow its base after shrinking for the last few years, has a new offer for cable operators — it’s proposing an easier way to bring the DVR platform to different set-top boxes.

For Comcast, it’s been a pricey project to bring TiVo to Motorola and Cisco/SA boxes.

From January 2006 through October 2008, TiVo recognized $39.3 million in technology revenues from Comcast associated with the project, according to the DVR company’s regulatory filings.

As a result of the development with Comcast, TiVo now has “essentially a Java implementation” of its application, according to David Sandford, TiVo’s VP of marketing and product development.

Earlier this month TiVo announced a deal with set-top middleware vendor Alticast, whose software is supposed to provide hardware-independent deployment of an application.

Now, with the Alticast partnership, TiVo can claim its software can be (comparatively easily) ported to a variety of set-top hardware. And that potentially opens to door for the company to pitch itself as being a cable provider’s default IPG.

Sandford says the software offers an integrated, well-known interface with plenty of features cable operators want to offer to their consumers, like remote DVR scheduling and over-the-top Internet video access.

“A lot of what operators are looking for is the TiVo brand,” said Sandford, who was in New York this past week with Alticast and Intel showing off their wares.

He wouldn’t talk pricing, but said TiVo requires co-branding with an operator.

Jeff Bonin, VP and general manager of Alticast, said porting the TiVo application to his company’s middleware will give operators an alternative to having “to choose between expensive proprietary solutions and generic ‘me-too’ products.”

TiVo does have distribution deals with Comcast, Cox and DirecTV, but each of those partners is positioning their TiVo offerings as a premium-level add-on.

Will these new initiatives help TiVo get back to growth? The company has no choice but to try: Over the last two years, the company has lost 1.1 million subscribers, ending January 2009 with 3.3 million (see Tivo’s Downward Spiral).