4K/8K Video

TiVo Hints at UHD Launch in Q3

AMSTERDAM -- IBC 2015 -- TiVo is dropping strong hints that it will launch an Ultra HD set-top box before the end of October as it looks to stay ahead of its rivals.

The DVR maker has yet to announce firm plans in the UHD area but was reported in early September to be on the verge of introducing a new product called the TiVo Bolt that would support UHD. (See 5 Signs OTT's Time Has Come.)

Speaking to Light Reading at the IBC show in Amsterdam, Jeff Klugman, TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO)'s executive vice president of products and revenue, would not confirm whether TiVo is about to launch a UHD product but gave a strong signal that one is forthcoming.

"Stay tuned -- we are pretty close and there will be further announcements this quarter," he said. "We will try to be the first out there with products for UHD."

Klugman also suggested that TiVo was not prepared to wait for standardization groups to make progress before moving ahead with its UHD plans.

"We're trying to remain as agnostic as possible," he said. "Standardization is helpful but we will try to follow specific trends."

His remarks came shortly after the UHD Alliance -- an association of technology players, content providers and production companies -- told Light Reading that products based on the UHD standard it is developing would be unveiled at next year's Consumer Electronics Show, a tradeshow that takes place in Las Vegas every January. (See UHD Alliance Aims for Early-2016 Release.)

Klugman also said that UHD content appears to be "readily available" and that customers are now looking to TiVo for UHD products.

While UHD content offerings still seem to be relatively limited, over-the-top (OTT) players Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) are now delivering a selection of shows in 4K format.

Support for both traditional and OTT offerings forms a critical part of TiVo's strategy, with the company selling its DVRs directly to consumers as well as through service provider partners, such as Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) in the UK.

The company is hoping to boost its presence in emerging markets through a new TiVo Lite solution it unveiled at IBC.

TiVo Lite uses middleware from Cubiware, the software company that TiVo acquired in May, and analytics technology from Digitalsmiths Corp. , a cloud services specialist it acquired in January last year.

Executives say the product is a more basic version of its standard offerings, with a lower price point, and due to be launched in several emerging markets.

TiVo also revealed that Argentina's Supercanal is to use Cubiware's middleware during a new digitization project.

Want to know more about pay-TV subscriber trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

TiVo last week reported a 6.8% year-on-year increase in sales for the second (May-to-July) quarter of the year, to $119 million, thanks to growth in subscriber numbers and an increase in revenues at its software and technology divisions.

Total cumulative subscriptions rose to about 6 million in July from 4.8 million a year earlier.

Discussing Tivo's outlook in Europe, David Sandford, the vice president and general manager of the international business, said the company's prospects are particularly good in the UK and Spain, where it has important partnerships with Virgin Media and Vodafone España S.A. respectively.

Virgin Media is embarking on a £3 million expansion of its network to cover another four million premises in the UK by 2020, while Vodafone is similarly enlarging its fixed broadband footprint in Spain following its takeover of cable operator ONO last year. (See Virgin Media Plots £3B Invasion of BT Turf and Europe's Fiber Sell-Off.)

"We think there could be as much as 30% expansion of the ONO footprint in terms of IPTV capability," said TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers during the company's second-quarter earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

DaveZNF 9/15/2015 | 7:59:37 AM
Pole Position Except their retail customer numbers are down to 2007 levels and losing more subscribers than they gain most quarters. So they need to appeal to a broader audience beyond merely going back to the well. And I think they have a great opportunity here to be in a leadership position and differentiate from the also premium priced Apple TV -- get your linear TV (cable or OTA) plus 4k streaming from Amazon and Netflix. Although I do wonder what it'll do to pricing and it looks like there will be a 4k Amazon Fire TV this fall as well. 
Mitch Wagner 9/14/2015 | 4:03:48 PM
Good move Good move by TiVo. Consumer uptake for UHD has been shaky, but TiVo isn't any consumer company. Their core customers are videophiles and likely to demand fast access to UHD. 
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