UPDATED. TiVo is adding more cable content to its DVRs, announcing a deal with Comcast to bring its Xfinity On Demand library to its menu of options. With more than 22.8 million subscribers throughout the U.S., Comcast provides a larger addressable userbase for TiVo to target with a more integrated DVR offering.
The deal will make Comcast’s on-demand titles available to subscribers who purchase a TiVo Premiere DVR. But unlike TiVo’s partnerships with some other distributors, Comcast Xfinity On Demand will be added to a menu of content offerings that also include Netflix subscription streaming and Blockbuster and Amazon video-on-demand services. DVRs distributed by Suddenlink and RCN, for instance, strip out broadband services like Netflix and Hulu Plus, because those services have been seen as competitive to cable company VOD services.
Also unlike partnerships with some other distributors — like that with RCN — the TiVo DVRs won’t be sold directly by Comcast but will be available at retail. However, the companies have agreed to partner on promoting the TiVo DVRs in retail and other channels. And once bought, Comcast will install TiVo DVRs along with the cable service at no charge, if the service is available in that area. San Francisco Comcast subscribers will get first crack at owning the TiVo DVRs, though according to the press release, the service offer will expand to other markets.
Comcast charges an average of $16.95 per month to lease its HD DVRs, depending on the market and whether or not the subscriber has signed up for a promotional offer. TiVo service, meanwhile, costs $12.99 a month — if you pay full price ($299) for the hardware. If you opt for the discounted $99 price for the TiVo Premiere, you’ll shell out $19.99 a month. Either way, you’ll need a CableCard from Comcast, but a spokesperson said the companies are still working out pricing details on that.
For TiVo, availability of new content on its DVRs and promotion from Comcast could help expand its subscriber base, which has been rapidly contracting over the last several years. Despite practically giving away its DVRs, TiVo has seen its customer base fall to just over 2 million subscribers in the end of the second quarter — down from a high of 4.4 million subs in 2007.
While TiVo has struggled to hold onto subscribers, it’s also engaging in patent litigation suits against companies that have rolled out similar time-shifted functionality. That strategy has paid off big so far, as TiVo recently reached a deal with Dish Network and EchoStar for $500 million to settle a case over TiVo’s Time Warp patent. TiVo also has ongoing lawsuits against AT&T and Verizon.
Update: Todd Spangler at Multichannel News reports that the announcement also effectively ends the companies’ long-running efforts to bring TiVo technology to Comcast DVRs.
Screenshot courtesy of Zatz Not Funny!