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TiVo spits out monster 6-way Pace box for US eyes only

Probably commissioned by mega US cable corp

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The fact that the very first product out of the relationship between TiVo and Pace is a six-tuner device means automatically that it‘s for use in the US – nowhere else has that kind of requirement yet.

But in the US six tuners is becoming a requirement, and the TiVo Premiere being delivered at cable TV giant RCN already has four tuners. It may be a coincidence that semiconductor fab MaxLinear this week has come out with a chip that has six or eight tuners onboard, but it may also be a clue to the supplier of this component.

The new device is the Pace XG1 multi-tuner video gateway, and because it offers DOCSIS 3.0 it means this device has almost certainly been commissioned by one of the larger US cable operators. It comes with the TiVo whole home solution and that is the basis of a whole separate announcement – effectively what it is doing is offering a smaller TiVo device for each TV in the home, and running this monster in the middle.

We suspect that communication is through the DLNA blessed DTCP-IP streaming protection which converts from a conditional access stream to DTCP-IP for inside the home. The new box comes with 500GB of storage, and offers multi-room streaming over MoCA connections and speaks directly to TiVo mobile and tablet apps.

It could be that this relationship with Pace then is far more important than we had realised and that there will be no TiVo home gateway, which would have eaten up tons of its R&D, and instead any TiVo cable business which needs to offer a home gateway will now go to Pace.

Tom Rogers, president and CEO, said: "Consumers not only want an enjoyable TV experience, but now demand choice and the flexibility to watch content on multiple devices and screens within the home. TiVo has worked with our operator customers to create a suite of affordable companion devices that deliver a cohesive experience regardless of the screen the customer wants to use."

US cable operators currently deploying TiVo include Charter, RCN, Suddenlink and Grande Communications. In Europe, they include Virgin Media in the UK and ONO in Spain. Separately, TiVo announced its IP set-top box, which is designed not to supply to IP Multicast services, but to take and resolve the DTCP-IP streams on secondary TVs throughout the home.

TiVo Stream

It also introduced TiVo Stream to provide transcoding to enable content viewing on mobile devices throughout the home. The TiVo Stream is like the Motorola Televation; it simply offloads the transcoding and relationship with the home gateway in order to stream over Wi-Fi to a separate device. It will be a fairly simple devices inside we suspect.

But like everyone else, TiVo must have started implementing the same DTCP-IP streaming over Wi-Fi here too and it must be in software, because Apple would never give away details of its A5 chip security. TiVo says that it is so secure it can provide a DVR stream on an iOS device now, and on Android later, and the content can also be stored on that device for viewing outside the home – another capability that is becoming more common.

The Tivo Stream requires you to already have a Tivo Premiere Q box, a home gateway version of the Premiere, and TiVo service at $15 a month, or you can buy the Stream box for a one-off fee of $500.

Both products – the IP set-top and TiVo Stream – are ready for operator distribution, and include automated provisioning and activation. But TiVo also plans to offer both products through retail as well as through cable operators.

This set of announcements make TiVo even more of a hot property in investor terms, and yet on Friday its value was stuck at $8.95 and a market capitalisation of just $1bn, despite holding cash of $620m, giving it an enterprise valuation of just $380m.

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Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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