Rovi Spends $720M on Sonic Solutions

Video guide and navigation system specialist Rovi Corp. is poised to go over-the-top (OTT) after putting up US$720 million in cash and stock to snap up Sonic Solutions (Nasdaq: SNIC), a company that offers thousands of movies and TV shows via a wide range of Internet-connected televisions, Blu-ray players, and smartphones.

Rovi, which is paying a 38.2 percent premium based on Sonic's 30-day average per share closing price as of Dec. 21, has previously integrated Sonic's OTT video service, RoxioNow, with TotalGuide, an interactive program guide (IPG) and apps platform that Rovi has developed for the consumer electronics (CE) industry. Rovi, which has developed a cross-platform ad network for TotalGuide, is hopeful that further integration will help accelerate uptake for premium OTT fare. (See Rovi Launches Cross-Platform Ad Network.)

Why this matters
The acquisition will give Rovi its own Web-fed content storefront for TotalGuide, which is designed to combine traditional TV navigation with applications and Web TV elements. Rovi introduced the CE-focused guide in 2009 under the code-name "Liquid" and has developed a cross-platform ad network for it. (See Macrovision Resets as 'Rovi' and Rovi Pours Out 'Liquid' IPG.)

Although Rovi provides IPGs and intellectual property for IPGs to a range of cable operators and telco TV operators, this move is competitive in the sense that it gives Rovi a way to offer about 10,000 movies and TV shows over broadband. Rovi expects Sonic's RoxioNow platform to be embedded in more than 30 million connected devices by June 2011. TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO), Vizio Inc. , and Panasonic Corp. (NYSE: PC) are among its CE partners.

Rovi is also developing a version of TotalGuide that's optimized for cable boxes, including those that use the tru2way platform. That offering is expected to allow cable subs to search, browse, and obtain title recommendations across cable's linear TV, on-demand lineups, as well as what's stored on the local DVR. It's not yet known if Rovi, which has yet to announce any MSO deals for TotalGuide, will include all of its OTT capabilities and content for the service provider version, or just a subset. (See 'TotalGuide' Takes Run at Cable.)

However, Rovi said the Sonic buy will allow it to broaden the number of products it can offer to "content owners, device makers, retailers and operators," so service providers are at least on the list.

Rovi expects to close the deal during the first quarter of 2011, and make Sonic Solutions a wholly owned subsidiary.

For more
For more about Rovi and its recent CE and service provider moves, please check out these stories:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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