Macrovision Resets as 'Rovi'
Although the new guide, code-named "Liquid," will seek out distribution on Internet-connected digital TVs, Rovi's strong ties to MSOs suggest that some of the newly developed features may eventually grace next-gen cable interactive program guides (IPGs), as well, and help operators counter the bells and whistles that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is adding to its TV interface. (See Macrovision Becomes Rovi Corp., Rovi Pours Out 'Liquid' IPG, and Verizon Adds Twitter, Facebook to FiOS.)
Macrovision revealed plans for the name change in May. The name is derived from the middle four letters of old Macrovision label. In tandem with the name change, the company's stock is now operating on the Nasdaq under the "ROVI" ticker. Macrovision got into the IPG game in 2007 via the purchase of Gemstar-TV Guide International. (See Macrovision's New Label: 'Rovi' and Macrovision to Buy Gemstar-TV Guide for $2.8B.)
Liquid, the first product to emerge from the newly named firm, is a portal/interface that unifies information from traditional broadcast and cable TV services with digital fare snared from the Internet and stored on home networks. It also allows users to bring in social-networking apps and an engine that makes recommendations based on preferences. Digeo Inc. , maker of the Moxi guide, has similar aims with its retail strategy. (See Digeo Goes Over the Top and Digeo HD-DVR Enters Retail Waters .)
Rovi expects to offer Liquid (as a comprehensive package, or via individual modules) to CE manufactures by early 2010. Blockbuster Inc. has already signed on to deliver on-demand content through the Liquid guide. Among other "over-the-top" video features, the guide comes equipped to use "YouTube XL," a site that's optimized for larger TVs and displays. Rovi says Liquid is also compatible with Roxio CinemaNow.
Features adorning Liquid may also offer a hint at what's in store for next-gen cable IPGs. Despite the new CE-centric foray, Rovi remains a significant cable IPG supplier, and is still linked to Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) through the GuideWorks LLC joint venture. The J.V. gives Comcast some autonomy on product development, but, perhaps just as importantly, it helps the MSO avoid any legal entanglements with Rovi, which claims to hold more than 4,000 issued or pending patents.
At The Cable Show in April, Rovi (still known as Macrovision then) introduced new video navigation systems that built in multi-room DVR capabilities, including Passport Echo 3.5 and i-Guide A28. Both of those guides are slated for a fourth-quarter release, and will run on Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) -enabled set-tops. (See The Cable Show '09: 5 Takeaways .)
But not all MSOs are entrenched with Rovi. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) has taken much of its IPG development in-house. Cox Communications Inc. , meanwhile, is developing a new tru2way-based guide in partnership with NDS Ltd. . (See Cox Gives Guide Guidance and Cox Puts NDS at Heart of Tru2way Plan .)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News