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TiVo's Crafting a Whole-Home DVR

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) has confirmed it's developing a new client box for a whole-home DVR for MSOs, with Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) being one of the high-speed home networking technologies it's considering.

Suddenlink Communications , the first MSO TiVo has signed for the multi-room DVR, expects to start deployments sometime next year as part of a distribution deal the companies announced today. (See Suddenlink Boxes Up TiVo Deal .)

RCN Corp. would be another candidate, since it already offers the TiVo "Premiere" box as its primary DVR in some markets. (See RCN Makes TiVo Its Dominant DVR.)

TiVo senior VP of corporate development and strategy Naveen Chopra tells Light Reading Cable that his company will be developing both the software and the hardware for a whole-home product that would feed off an MSO-customized version of TiVo's Premiere box. TiVo has similar projects overseas, but most of them call for TiVo's software to be ported to third-party boxes. (See TiVo Hopes to Reign in Spain and TiVo Coming to Virgin's Non-DVRs, Too.)

"We're developing a client box" for MSOs, Chopra says, but he isn't elaborating on specifics, such as how many TVs and other devices would be supported by the new multi-room product.

However, TiVo wants to ensure that the experience on the client boxes mirrors what customers can do on the Premiere DVR. "That's a key design principle for us," Chopra says.

TiVo is considering a "couple of choices" when it comes to the home networking technology for the multi-room DVR. "We think MoCA will be a very popular answer for many operators," Chopra says, noting that it would be "easy" to modify the Premiere box for MoCA. That would obviously represent growth potential for Entropic Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ENTR) and Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), still the only companies that make MoCA chips. (See MoCA Is Go for 2.0.)

TiVo hasn't announced plans to make a similar whole-home client to support its retail DVR products, though Chopra acknowledges it would be a "logical" thing to do. Such a product would likely involve wireless home networking.

In targeting MSOs, TiVo would compete with traditional cable suppliers including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Pace plc . (See Mediacom Rolls Whole-Home DVR, Cox Guides Tru2way Forward, and Comcast: 'AnyRoom DVR' is Live in 20+ Markets .)

A retail play would help TiVo also match up against Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS)'s Moxi, a multi-room HD-DVR with thin clients called Moxi Mates. Arris also sells a more limited, standalone Moxi HD-DVR directly to MSOs and has fancier multimedia gateways on the horizon. (See Arris Tunes Up Moxi Box , Arris Digs Digeo ,What Digeo Was Making , Digeo Flips Switch on SDV, Multi-Room , and Digeo Gives Arris Multimedia Gateway Potential .)

Chopra says TiVo's stance on tru2way remains unchanged. It's still developing a tru2way-based guide but has no plans to make tru2way boxes for retail or for direct-to-MSO distribution. (See TiVo Gives Cable Both Barrels and TiVo Building tru2way Version of New Interface.)

"For Tier 2 operators, frankly, we're not seeing a great deal of inertia on tru2way deployment," he says. "We don't believe tru2way solves the problem of a retail set-top box."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:30:32 PM
re: TiVo's Crafting a Whole-Home DVR

I should mention that TiVo does offer a multi-room option today, but it involves connecting multiple DVRs over the home network, rather than connecting a primary DVR to a bunch of thin clients. In the way TiVo does it now, users can send content from one DVR over the home network to another where it's cached on the 2nd one's hard drive. Not the most elegant option but it works for now, at least until this new (and probably less expensive, from a per-box perspective)  setup comes on the scene.  JB

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:30:26 PM
re: TiVo's Crafting a Whole-Home DVR

Yes.  Their current "multi-room" is copying, not streaming and as such, is hindered by the Copy Flag.

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