Comcast takes on TiVo


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Sep 8, 2003
Comcast takes on TiVo

By Jim Hu
Staff Writer, CNET

Story last modified December 3, 2003, 2:41 PM PST

Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, plans to begin providing TiVo-like video recording features directly to its cable TV subscribers by year's end.

The company will offer digital video recording (DVR) services over Motorola set-top boxes and is developing its own digital video recording software with partner TV Guide, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said Wednesday at the Western Cable Show in Anaheim, Calif.

"We are working on Motorola's platform, and we will be rolling it out this quarter," Roberts said. Comcast will launch DVR services "big time next year," he said, adding that he expects to be able to provide the service to 90 percent of the company's subscribers by the end of 2004.

Digital video recorders let people record TV programs onto a hard drive. Customers also can control live programs by rewinding or pausing their TV programs.

The move is a blow for TiVo, which pioneered DVR technology and is increasingly facing competition from set-top box makers. The company has sought refuge in partnerships and software licensing, a strategy that won't be helped by Comcast's decision to develop competing DVR software.

Other companies have decided to partner with TiVo to offer these features to customers, including satellite TV provider DirecTV and DVD makers Toshiba and Pioneer.

Analysts said Comcast's DVR moves signal a shift in industry sentiment, which has long backed video-on-demand (VOD) technology. VOD services typically store video files in central servers and stream them to the customer.

"Major cable executives are now showing unified support of (DVR) being a new revenue stream," said Richard Doherty, director at market researcher Envisioneering Group. "That's a big change from previous sentiment."

Cable companies charge people a monthly subscription fee to use DVR systems. Many Comcast set-top boxes already have hard drives built into them, but people have to upgrade to new boxes to take advantage of the feature.

Cable executives, however, are not tempering their enthusiasm for VOD. Some are taking a more cautious approach to DVR technology, viewing it more as a test bed rather than an established business.

"The video-on-demand platform is rich and potentially can do more than (DVR) boxes," said Glenn Britt, CEO of Time Warner Cable.

Different views on DSL....................
Big news for Gemstar/TVGuide over the past few days. First DirecTV said that they are going to be using TV Guide Interactive and now Wednesday Comcast commits to using TVGuide Interactive for its DVRs.
Check out this link of the new Motorola HDTV DVR that comcast is said to be using. Take special notice of of the Interactive program link on on the left menu bar on the site. Also look at the interactive progam guide selection in the interactive demo of the box. It talks about the TV Guide interactive application engine that the box uses. It almost seems as if the TV Guide interactive is the software.
How are you going to click on a show when it is constantly rolling up the screen on that guide? That is one feature that I rarely used when I had cable. I would much rather have a TV Guide magazine in my hands!
I think that News Corp (Fox and now DirectTV) also owns TVGuide. So I'm not surprised that D* is going to start to use them.

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