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Set-top boxes

Rovi Roams to More Devices

Roving well beyond traditional digital cable set-top boxes, Rovi is introducing programming guides and remote control features for a range of other video devices, including digital transport adapters (DTAs), connected TVs, tablets, and smartphones.

In a flurry of announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Rovi Corp. outlined the different new guides, remote control features, and new or expanded licensing agreements with such leading consumer electronics makers as Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC), Sharp Electronics Corp. , LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , and Funai Electric Co. Ltd. (OTC: FUAIY). It also announced new or expanded agreements with other major industry players, such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and MStar Semiconductor Inc. .

Most notably, Rovi is launching its first programming guide for standard digital and HD DTAs in the North American cable market. The company said the new guide solution will let DTA viewers find out what shows are available, tune directly into channels from the program grid, set parental controls, and pick language options, just like customers with more advanced digital services can already do.

Rovi said it's working with a number of major DTA suppliers to "test and pre-port" its new DTA guides. The list of providers includes Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Evolution Digital LLC , and Pace plc . Rovi did not disclose any cable operators that might adopt the DTA guide.

The move is significant because several US and Canadian MSOs are now relying heavily on DTAs, which are simple, one-way, digital-to-analog devices, to upgrade all their video subscribers to digital service. In particular, such major US MSOs as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Mediacom Communications Corp. , Suddenlink Communications , and CableOne have been rolling out DTAs throughout the country, especially in their smaller markets, to compete more effectively with satellite TV and telco video providers.

With the introduction of the new DTA guide, Rovi said it now "offers discovery solutions that span across the array of cable platforms -- from basic DTAs and advanced digital video recorders to second-screen devices -- that can help cable-TV service providers improve the user experience across their entire subscriber footprint." Company executives demonstrated the new guide to MSO executives in a private hotel suite during the CES show.

In addition to launching the DTA program guide, Rovi unveiled an initiative designed to spur the creation of apps for connected TVs, tablets, and smartphones that can control older, legacy cable set-tops. Known as Rovi Remote Access Services, it's a new component of the company's cloud-based services push.

Rovi said the first remote access apps will allow viewers to use the company's program guides on connected devices to control channel navigation and DVR functions on their cable set-tops. The vendor said other remote control capabilities are on the way.

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— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

albreznick 1/15/2014 | 12:08:24 PM
Re: Smaller markets I'd say both, Dan. Lots of possibilities out there. I wouldn't be surprised to see a bunch of smaller cable operators, or big ones in smaller markets, sign up for Rovi's new offerings.  
DOShea 1/12/2014 | 6:52:31 PM
Smaller markets Sounds like one of the angles here is that Rovi can help cable bring some advanced capabilities to customers in smaller markets. Are these markets that might be under-served by those operators, or just where they are looking for some less expensive ways to win the customer?
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