Video services

DirecTV & TiVo to Play It Again

10:25 AM -- After halting the marketing of satellite receivers with TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO)'s 's digital video recorder (DVR) service on-board in favor of a system based on NDS Ltd. technology about three years ago, DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) has apparently had second thoughts.

On Wednesday, the U.S. satellite TV king and the DVR pioneer announced a new, non-exclusive deal to develop and distribute a new hi-def DirecTV/TiVo DVR satellite receiver. The resulting box won't support some "over-the-top" video features found in stand-alone TiVo boxes such as Amazon Unbox, but the new combo will include TiVo's Universal Swivel Search and KidZone applications. TiVo and DirecTV expect the new device to launch in the second half of 2009. DirecTV has yet to disclose pricing on the TiVo option.

DirecTV and TiVo initiated a partnership in 2000 with a standard-def DVR. The new HD box deal extends an earlier commercial and advertising deal the two announced in April.

Historically, TiVo had relied on DirecTV to pump up a healthy segment of its subscription base, but the scrapping of the co-marketing deal has sapped away TiVo's service provider-aided sub numbers ever since.

Although TiVo suggests new deals with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Cox Communications Inc. will provide help in this area, recent cable deployments and trials have yet to set the market on fire. However, Comcast is expected to start ramping up the marketing of its TiVo offering this month. (See Comcast Expands TiVo Footprint and Cox Tees Up TiVo Test Bed .)

While the new agreement with DirecTV could spur TiVo subscriptions in 2009 and 2010, it might also enable DirecTV to avoid a legal fight with the DVR company. Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), DirecTV's satellite TV rival in the U.S., has threatened to take its protracted patent fight with TiVo to the Supreme Court. (See TiVo Sees Dish Drama Dissolving, The Final Chapter?, and TiVo Digs DVR Ruling .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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