Virgin Media has turned to long-term supplier Cisco for its first ‘TiVo inside’ set-top when the navigation technology becomes the cableco’s prime middleware later this year. However, plans to retrofit TiVo into the operator’s existing set-top boxes have hit a stumbling block after it emerged the technology was not suitable for all of the receivers currently deployed on the network.
A new Cisco personal video recorder is due to be shipped shortly before Christmas when TiVo will soft launch. The rollout is anticipated to get underway in earnest early in 2011. The manufacturer has already been named by Spanish cablenet ONO for its own TiVo deployment.
Cisco is already a supplier of Virgin’s V+ digital video recorder, a relationship that goes back past the legacy brands of Telewest and NTL, and last September it was announced Cisco would deploy core and edge network technologies as part of he deployment of its Internet Protocol (IP) TV distribution platform and upgrade of its legacy digital TV infrastructure.
In an investor call last week Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett described TiVo as a platform that would work for the cableco’s TV customers in the same way that DOCSIS 3 had been implemented for its broadband internet subscribers. “We will be first mover into next generation TV and I think we will also be best mover. It will be a superior product to Sky’s codename Darwin, it will be a better product than Canvas, and it will be first out”.
In addition to new deployments it is hoped the TiVo software will be downloaded into a part of the existing installed base. “The current V+ HD, ie non-DVR boxes that we are sourcing from Cisco, are compatible with TiVo, so we could drop TiVo onto those, but the Samsung DVRs are not, so we would probably launch DVRs that we would source from Cisco initially and they would be new to requirements,” said Berkett.
He explained that TiVo boxes could be rolled out within the existing capital guidance and that if there were a suitable pricing mechanism found, this could be expanded further.
Going forward, the cost on a per-box basis was no more than with the existing TV Navigator/Liberate middleware, though with the two technologies overlapping it is clear that a final renewal of the SeaChange-owned middleware will be required before the turn of the year.