said Monday it has agreed on a deal to provide digital video recorder equipment and service to customers of the more than 1,100 member companies of the . The NCTC, based in Lenexa, Kan., buys hardware and programming for its member operators.
The NCTC will serve as a middleman between TiVo and the operators. Until now, customers of those operators who wanted TiVo service have had to buy the equipment and service and install it themselves.
"This gives us the opportunity to work with these cable operators as one single point of contact and make the TiVo service available to them in a way that was difficult for us before," said Joe Miller, vice president of sales and distribution for TiVo. "Our distribution model so far has primarily been retail, so for us, it gives us an additional point of distribution through independent cable operators."
Among the biggest half dozen American cable operators, which control about 80 percent of the country's cable market, TiVo to date has struck a similar distribution deal only with.
Still, to some observers, the partnership between TiVo and the NCTC means the DVR company is now positioned to reach customers in the country's smaller markets.
"It's incremental distribution at the margin for TiVo," said Murray Arenson, a senior analyst with Ferris Baker Watts. "So to have access to these smaller, independent operators makes sense."
In any case, Dan Mulvenon, vice president of public relations for the NCTC, said the partnership is all about giving the organization's members a quick way to bring hot technology into previously lower-tech markets.
"The primary purpose behind this is that small cable operators have not been able to make the transition into a digital environment," Mulvenon said. "They have not been able to roll out DVR technology. By working with TiVo, they'll be able to provide DVR technology in an analog environment."