Video services

TiVo Gets More Cable-Ready

1:30 PM -- TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO) appears to be inching ahead with a tru2way strategy after striking a set-top software partnership with Alticast Corp. Meanwhile, a separate video-on-demand (VoD) accord with SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) looks to address some of TiVo's pre-tru2way ambitions. (See TiVo Taps Alticast and TiVo Hooks Up With SeaChange .)

The way to tru2way?
TiVo said the deal with Alticast will allow TiVo to port its DVR applications and services to the tru2way environment as well as to Blu-ray players and other devices that use either the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP, the middleware component of tru2way), Blu-ray Disc Java, or DVB-MHP system. All three of those use similar, baseline Java technology.

Alticast's core embedded software products play in all of those areas. On the tru2way front, Alticast has developed its own tru2way middleware stack, competing with the likes of Vidiom Systems Inc. and enableTV Inc.

Today, Alticast's stack is present in Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC)-made tru2way boxes deployed with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks . Pace Micro Technology is also on board to use the Alticast stack in some tru2way-based DVR products set for debut later this year. The rest of Alticast's OCAP efforts center on the Asian cable markets.

Several weeks ago, Alticast VP and GM Jeff Bonin told Cable Digital News that his company was looking to expand its U.S. presence. A deal with TiVo appears to help fit that bill for Alticast, which is headquartered in Seoul, but has an office in Broomfield, Colo.

For its part, TiVo has expressed interest in developing tru2way boxes but has yet to formally announce any product. (See TiVo à la Mode .)

So, while we wait for tru2way…
Instead, most of TiVo's domestic cable activity has centered on deals with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Cox Communications Inc. that port TiVo's DVR software to pre-tru2way Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)-made set-tops.

TiVo is also offering standalone DVRs that use two-way CableCARDs, but the host boxes themselves are only "one-way," meaning they cannot access channels in an MSO's switched digital video (SDV) tier without a special tuning adapter. (See TiVo Still Seeking Cable Payoff , Chi-Town Bound?, Cox Tees Up TiVo Test Bed , CableLabs Stamps SDV Tuning Adapters , and NCTA Sees Solution to Switching Snag.)

Those same standalone CableCARD boxes also can't do cable VoD, which is where TiVo's deal with SeaChange evidently comes into play.

Under that joint development, SeaChange will integrate its cable VoD capabilities with TiVo's pre-tru2way, CableCARD-capable HD-DVR, including a way for cable VoD titles to be highlighted on TiVo's "universal search results." (See TiVo Courts Cable With New HD-DVR.)

TiVo and SeaChange, a vendor that happens to supply VoD software and back-office systems to both Comcast and Cox, said the integrated combo will be available to participating cable MSOs on "select" TiVo-branded hi-def cable boxes later this year. (See Cox VOD Effort Matches Vendor Rivals .)

TiVo is expected to shed more light on both partnerships when it discusses fourth-quarter results this afternoon.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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