DirecTV and TiVo: Together again

DirecTV and TiVo have agreed to develop and sell a new TiVo DVR for DirecTV's satellite TV service. This announcement is long overdue, but very welcome.

Tech Culture

Great news from a press release I received today:

EL SEGUNDO and ALVISO, Calif., Sept. 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --

DIRECTV, Inc. (Nasdaq: DTV), the nation's leading satellite television service provider, and TiVo Inc. (Nasdaq: TIVO), the creator of and a leader in television services for digital video recorders (DVR), announced today that they have extended their current agreement, which includes the development, marketing and distribution of a new HD DIRECTV DVR featuring the TiVo(R) service, as well as the extension of mutual intellectual property arrangements.

Under the terms of the non-exclusive arrangement, DIRECTV and TiVo will work together to develop a version of the TiVo(R) service for DIRECTV's broadband-enabled HD DVR platform. The product will support the latest TiVo and DIRECTV features and services, including TiVo's Universal Swivel Search and TiVo KidZone. TiVo will develop the new HD DVR for an expected launch in the second half of 2009.

I had a TiVo HD DVR (the Hughes HR10-250) that worked with DirecTV's original HD channel lineup, but when DirecTV adopted the new H.264 technology to provide more channels, the HR10-250 became effectively obsolete.

I've previously explained why I've been so disappointed with the replacement DirecTV HR21-700 DVR and, more generally, with the way DirecTV pushed this product on its customers without offering the superior alternative of a true TiVo DVR.

As I mentioned in my HR21-700 review, I suspect that one of the reasons that DirecTV's DVRs are somewhat feature-deficient compared with TiVo DVRs is that TiVo, as a pioneer in the development of DVR technology, owns a lot of intellectual property in this area, and DirecTV chose not to license the necessary patents.

I don't know how extensive TiVo's patent portfolio really is, or whether it could have strong-armed DirecTV into being more cooperative during the launch of the new HD channels. The two companies have a history of working together, however, and I'm very glad they finally found a way to work together again.

It's too bad we have to wait so long before getting new DirecTV TiVo boxes. I still don't really like this HR21-700, and I'd replace it tomorrow if I could, but it'll have to do until the new TiVo DVRs show up. I can hardly wait.

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