TiVo Hops Across the Atlantic, Gets Into Virgin's Box

Just yesterday TiVo was in the news for its user-data deal with Google, but its execs have obviously been far busier than that: Today there's fresh info that TiVo is expanding—it's due to launch a co-branded DVR TV service in the U.K. with Virgin.

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Back in 2000, TiVo partnered with BSkyB and Thomson to build a digital video recording system for BSkyB's multi-channel satellite network. But the nascent satellite industry in the country couldn't really support this innovation—and fewer than 35,000 units were sold, prompting an exit from the market in 2003.

Nowadays the technology has moved on, and the public has become used to cable and satellite television. Sky, the biggest cable and satellite operator in the country, has had its own DVR system—Sky+—in the market for years. But it's not particularly capable of offering video on demand over its network, as its limited by its satellite distribution channels. And that makes room for other competing systems, like Virgin's fiber-optic cable TV network, to offer VOD to customers who are now interested in accessing movies and shows when they want to see them and not when the network deems it timely—quite possibly driven by the rise of video on demand on the Internet.

Virgin had been building its own system, mixing "traditional broadcast TV content with on-demand programming, Web-based entertainment and interactive features" but seems to have abandoned that goal for a partnership with TiVo, no doubt planning to leverage TiVo's considerable expertise. TiVo is going to be developing the middleware and UI software for the Virgin-branded set-top boxes, and Virgin will get to be the exclusive distributor for TiVo products in the U.K. TiVo's CEO Tom Rogers noted that it's just part of the company's plan to expand "its global footprint through strategic alliances with leading international media companies."

[Via PaidContent, VirginMedia]

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