Comcast’s long standing relationship with TiVo is nearly ready to bear fruit in the form of On Demand integration. Joint customers of the companies will receive Xfinity On Demand access via retail TiVo Premiere DVR hardware. During TiVo’s quarterly call, CEO Tom Rogers indicated field trials are underway and that public deployment to the San Francisco Bay Area “is weeks not months away.”
This collaboration looks quite different than their initial partnership, which resulted in TiVo software running on Motorola hardware to be marketed and deployed by Comcast. Unfortunately, the product wasn’t well received and was never deployed further than New England. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again? Rogers:
We started down one path and from a technical point of view completed it successfully, and they had difficulty rolling it out from an operational point of view. But we got back together and said, what would be a way that gets a product out that does not have those kind of operational difficulties
Indeed, the new solution is operationally distinct and something Rogers characterizes as a “hybrid” approach… As Comcast will be marketing and installing TiVo DVR hardware procured by customers through retail channels such as Best Buy. Additionally, existing TiVo Premiere units in lit up Comcast regions will receive access to Xfinity On Demand. On Demand will include both freely available content, as licensed by Comcast, and pay per view — all accessed in a dedicated Xfinity area (displayed below) and also available through TiVo’s universal search functionality. And, due to studio release windows, Comcast will actually offer new movies ahead of say Amazon’s competing VOD solution.
Technically, elements of of TiVo Xfinity On Demand communication are handled via an “IP back channel” — and presumably routed over the Internet versus Comcast’s dedicated video link. Incidentally, or perhaps ironically, this is exactly the sort of two-way solution TiVo and other Consumer Electronics manufacturers have proposed to further open up cable networks to retail hardware… without requiring a business relationship of this nature. Regardless, TiVo owners with Comcast service are about to receive a significant upgrade – starting in San Francisco and expanding to additional markets later this year.