Almost a year after Comcast terminated its set-top software development agreement with TiVo, the MSO has started to let subscribers use retail TiVo DVRs to access video-on-demand under a revised deal between the companies.
Beginning April 9, Comcast's Xfinity TV customers in the San Francisco Bay Area will be able to access VOD through the TiVo Premiere box. Over the next few weeks, existing TiVo Premiere and Comcast customers in the area will automatically receive an update to their DVRs to get the feature, according to a blog post on TiVo's corporate site.
Other Comcast markets are expected to activate the feature over the course of 2012, but the companies have not announced which markets will be next. TiVo has a similar deal with Cox Communications to enable VOD access from TiVo Premiere DVRs.
Last month, in a bid to lure customers away from cable operators' DVR offerings, TiVo cut the monthly subscription price for Premiere DVR customers by 25%, dropping it down to $14.99, and dropped the price of high-end models.
Under the original agreement between Comcast and TiVo announced in March 2005, the operator planned to offer TiVo-based DVRs running on Motorola hardware and eventually Cisco Systems boxes across its entire footprint. But the project was beset with delays and Comcast ultimately launched the service only in its New England market starting in late 2007, charging $2.95 per month more than the MSO's regular DVR service.
Comcast stopped funding for engineering services for the development of additional releases of the TiVo-branded software on Dec. 31, 2010.
The companies' revised deal, reached in May 2011, calls for Comcast and TiVo plan to jointly promote the VOD capability in retail and other sales channels, and the MSO will install TiVo Premiere set-top boxes with its cable service at no additional charge for its customers when the service is available in a market. Comcast subscribers can sign up for notifications about when Xfinity On Demand becomes available on TiVo Premiere in additional areas at tivo.com/comcast. In addition to paying for the TiVo service, TiVo users will continue to pay a separate monthly bill for Comcast services.
TiVo has more expansive deals with pay-TV partners that offer Premiere DVRs to their own subscribers, including DirecTV, Charter Communications, Suddenlink Communications and the U.K.'s Virgin Media. TiVo's service provider initiative has finally started paying dividends, as Virgin Media's rollout of TiVo-based boxes offset losses from its legacy DirecTV to let TiVo post a net gain of 387,000 subscribers through operators for the year ended Jan. 31.
On a separate track, TiVo has sued pay TV providers with which it has been unable to reach business deals.
The DVR company has patent-infringement litigation pending against Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications. TiVo has won settlements with Dish Network and AT&T potentially totaling more than $900 million through 2018.
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