Cox, EchoStar Unveil DVR Enhancements

Cable operator Cox Communications and satellite operator EchoStar both announced Thursday significant news regarding their digital-video-recorder (DVR)-equipped set-tops.

Cox unveiled a deal with DVR supplier TiVo to integrate TiVo's software and interactive advertising service into existing DVR set-tops. Under the agreement, similar to one Comcast reached with TiVo last year, TiVo will customize its software so it can be downloaded by Cox subscribers without having to replace their existing DVRs or schedule a technician's visit. The software download will allow Cox subs to use the TiVo interface, accessing features such as Season Pass recording or WishList searches, and also receive interactive ads. The service is expected to launch in select Cox markets in the first half of 2007.

Signing such licensing deals with cable operators was widely predicted by analysts in the wake of a favorable outcome for TiVo in a patent suit against EchoStar. That April judgement resulted in an injunction being issued this month against some three million EchoStar DVR set-tops. EchoStar appealed the decision and won a temporary block against the injunction, which may give the companies time to negotiate an agreement.

For its part, EchoStar is improving the programming currently available on its DVRs through an agreement with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group to carry the studio’s current and catalog titles on its DISH On Demand service, which downloads movies in advance to select EchoStar DVRs in order to provide a video-on-demand-like experience. Customers have immediate access to the newest VOD movies on DISH On Demand and can use DVR features such as pause, fast forward and rewind.

EchoStar says it will also include Warner Bros. titles among its pay-per-view and high-definition offerings.