TiVo Set-Tops Trickle Out
"We are pleased to confirm that the first non-Comcast employees have the new TiVo service, and that the rollout in the New England region will continue throughout the next few months," the companies said, in a joint statement.
In late May, TiVo officials said they expected Comcast to begin offering the DVR-set-top combo as early as August in a region that includes systems serving Boston, Southeastern Massachusetts, and parts of New Hampshire. (See Comcast to Kick Off Boston TiVo Party.)
The companies, which announced the original deal in March 2005, have not detailed a commercial deployment roadmap for those markets, or pricing on the TiVo-powered service. It's believed that the initial pocket of Comcast customers with access to cable boxes outfitted with TiVo are "friendlies," and are not paying extra for the set-top or the DVR service.
Analysts have estimated that the service could carry a premium in the neighborhood of $10 per month, but they have questioned whether consumers will pay extra for TiVo's application set and much-ballyhooed user interface, over an operator's more "generic" DVR offering.
Initially, Comcast is offering TiVo on Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) set-tops, including the dual-tuner DCT6412, but plans to port the DVR pioneer's software to Scientific Atlanta boxes as well. (See Comcast Funds TiVo App Expansion.)
The initial rollout marks an important step in TiVo's cable strategy, one that grew in strategic importance after DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) opted to deploy DVR apps from corporate cousin NDS Ltd. over TiVo's on a going-forward basis.
TiVo has a similar deal with Cox Communications Inc. TiVo CEO and president Tom Rogers has said that deployment should lag about six months behind the initial rollout with Comcast, but he has remained hopeful that it might get off the ground before the end of 2007.
Last month, Cablevision S.A. de C.V., the largest cable MSO in Mexico, began marketing a Spanish-language version of a standalone, standard-definition TiVo DVR. (See TiVo Goes South (of the Border) .)
Elsewhere in TiVo-land, the company has launched a program designed to entice existing customers to upgrade to the new TiVo HD box. Under the offer, good through November 8, those customers can purchase the HD box for $299.99 and transfer their "lifetime service" plans for another $199.
TiVo introduced the new HD "cable ready" box (it supports the removable CableCARD security module) in July. Its price point is considerably lower than TiVo's top-of-the-line Series3 HD box, which sells for $799.99.
Although some of TiVo's new standalone HD boxes can house Multistream CableCARDs, the devices themselves are not yet capable of handling two-way cable applications, like video-on-demand, or channels that are offered on an operator's "switched" tier. To address the latter, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is proposing a method that will enable switched digital video (SDV) services to run on one-way, cable-ready digital devices that use CableCARDs. The proposal centers on the development of a small adapter called the "Tuning Resolver." (See NCTA Sees Solution to Switching Snag.)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News