Cable Show 2012: TiVo Streams TV To Tablets, Debuts IP Set-Top

TiVo is promising to let cable operators deliver Slingbox-like features to their subscribers, with the introduction of a streaming device that extends live TV and DVR content to tablets and smartphones both in -- and outside -- the home.

In addition, TiVo will be offering an IP set-top box that acts as a client to the company's four-tuner Premiere Q DVR, to let a user access both live and recorded television viewing.

The TiVo Stream device provides built-in transcoding features to enable content viewing on mobile devices, such as iPads or iPhones, working with a TiVo Premiere DVR or Premiere Q.

TiVo plans to release both products at retail and through select cable operators. The company said it will announce details on pricing and availability for both the IP set-top box and TiVo Stream in the coming months.

Both products are designed to provide the same TiVo interface across all devices. While the company didn't disclose pricing, it said TiVo Stream and the IP set-top are designed with "the low-capital costs that operators demand," and provide such features as automated provisioning and activation.

"Consumers not only want an enjoyable TV experience, but now demand choice and the flexibility to watch content on multiple devices and screens within the home," TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers said in a statement. "TiVo has worked with our operator customers to create a suite of affordable companion devices that deliver a cohesive experience regardless of the screen the customer wants to use."

Unlike EchoStar Technologies' Slingbox, according to TiVo, the streaming device lets enable streaming or download of shows simultaneously to multiple portable devices without interrupting what's playing on TV. In addition, TiVo Stream will let users transfer shows to their mobile device for viewing outside the home.

The IP set-top box delivers live and recorded TV, a cable operator's video-on-demand, plus broadband-delivered content over the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) home networking specification.

EchoStar also has been pitching MSOs on a solution to embed the Slingbox functionality in set-top boxes and gateways, through a partnership with chip maker Broadcom. However, the company last month shut down its U.S. cable set-top box business, citing lack of sales potential.

TiVo's service provider partners that offer Premiere DVRs to their own subscribers include the U.K.'s Virgin Media, DirecTV, Charter Communications, Suddenlink Communications and RCN.

After years of seeing its user base declined, TiVo's service provider initiative finally started paying dividends late last year: The rollout of TiVo-based boxes by the U.K.'s Virgin Media offset losses from its legacy DirecTV deal, allowing TiVo to post a net gain of 387,000 subscribers through operators for the year ended Jan. 31, 2012.

As of the end of the period, the company had 1.2 million through DirecTV, Virgin Media and other operators, plus 1.1 million "TiVo-owned" retail subscribers.

Meanwhile, TiVo has litigation pending against Time Warner Cable, Verizon Communications and Motorola Mobility, accusing them of patent infringement. In the past year, TiVo has settled patent-infringement lawsuits against Dish Network and AT&T with licensing pacts worth nearly a billion dollars.

TiVo is scheduled to report financial results for the quarter ending April 30 after market close on May 30, 2012.