17.00 UPDATE: Virgin Media’s next generation set-top boxes are to run a converged television and broadband platform developed for the cablenet by the US DVR specialist TiVo. The UK cablenet is following in the footsteps of US counterparts Comcast and Cox, which are currently testing the technology in a number of markets.
In a mutually exclusive agreement, TiVo will run both middleware and user interfaces on Virgin’s HD receivers. At the same time, Virgin will become the exclusive distributor of TiVo services and technology that had otherwise disappeared from the UK market.
Virgin Media currently runs the SeaChange International-owned TV Navigator (the former Liberate) middleware across its technology footprint. It is expected that TV Navigator will continue to be used on SD receivers following the extension of its contract through until at least 2011. Broadband TV News understands that TiVo is likely to be used on a dedicated receiver model, TV Navigator continuing on current and future deployments of the standard and V+ (DVR) receivers.
“TiVo’s proven track record of innovation, strength of its patented technology and experience in developing best in class user environments, make it an ideal strategic partner for Virgin Media as we move aggressively to bring our next generation TV service to market,” said Virgin CEO Neil Berkett. It is planned that the new interface will allow viewers to search and discover content through an integrated VOD and broadband delivery system.
“This deal underscores TiVo’s commitment to expanding its global footprint through strategic alliances with leading international media companies to help them deliver the best in-home entertainment experience for consumers,” said Tom Rogers, president and CEO of TiVo Inc.
Virgin anticipates that its first branded TiVo product will appear during 2010. The cablenet has already signaled its intention to ramp up its HD offer to between 25 and 30 linear channels.
In a reversal of fortune TiVo’s initial foray into the UK market came in 2000, when a two-year agreement was made with BSkyB, an equity interest later extending the agreement for a further year. BSkyB later dropped the technology in favour of the NDS XTV system that is marketed as Sky+.