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Is TiVo's Cable Stance Softening?

6:00 PM -- With two retail deals with major U.S. MSOs salted away, TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO)'s attitude toward the cable industry is gradually improving.

Following a deal with Cox Communications Inc. last year, TiVo announced a similar one with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) this week that will let Premiere DVRs sold at retail access the MSO's video-on-demand (VoD) library while preserving TiVo's user interface and search capabilities. Those CableCARD-capable TiVo boxes already had the ability to access the MSO's broadcast content, but adding interactive VoD support is a new trick that's being done without tru2way -- something that TiVo pretty much hates as much as switched digital video and tuning adapters. (See Comcast, TiVo Strike Retail Deal and TiVo, Cable Re-Spark SDV Debate .)

"TiVo urges the Commission to carefully monitor the progress and implementation of these initiatives which have the potential to fulfill the Commission's goals for retail video devices," TiVo SVP, General Counsel, Secretary & Chief Privacy Officer Matthew Zinn noted in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in reference to the new Comcast agreement. TiVo's also hopeful that other pay-TV providers "follow Comcast's lead" and tackle similar initiatives without government nudging.

The acknowledgment is a big one because TiVo's historically been one of cable's biggest critics when it comes to support of retail video devices. It had gotten so bad that TiVo joined a coalition of powerful consumer electronics companies that's lobbying the FCC to create new AllVid rules that would apply not just to cable, but to telco- and satellite-TV providers, as well. (See TiVo Gives Cable Both Barrels and Google, TiVo & Best Buy Rally for AllVid.)

The cable industry wants the FCC to drop AllVid altogether. Has TiVo had a change of heart following the Comcast deal? I suspect they still want to see AllVid happen, though what form such rules might take is a moving target. (See AllVid Starting to Look App-Tastic .)

But I'll get a much better sense of TiVo's current stance on AllVid next week when I get a chance to ask Zinn some questions at a panel I'm moderating at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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