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TiVo cuts deal with Cox, hints at Series3 HD box

TiVo cuts deal with Cox, hints at Series3 HD box

TiVo has partnered with Cox Communications to deliver a customized version of its DVR service. It's the second such deal for TiVo, which had previously announced a similar arrangement with Comcast. Under the agreements, TiVo will customize and deploy its software to existing DVRs already in the field. So, instead of running the existing ho-hum operating systems and user interfaces, customers will get access to the slick TiVo interface instead.

TiVo-branded service is scheduled to be available to Comcast and Cox customers (in "select markets") by the end of 2006 and the middle of 2007, respectively. The end-user details haven't been disclosed, so we're left to speculate what the service would be like for users. The Cox press release notes that viewers will get TiVo basics such as the Wish List, Season Pass, and Kid Zone functions, but--because the TiVo service is essentially a software upgrade--they'll be sacrificing the ability to access the sort of downloadable digital media and Web-centric features you'll find on a standalone Series2 TiVo. That said, they should also, in theory, retain existing conveniences of their old cable boxes, such as (for instance) dual digital tuner support, HD video, and access to video-on-demand and pay-per-view services, none of which are available through existing TiVo boxes. Pricing is also up in the air, but we'd bet that providers will assess a surcharge for the TiVo upgrade--and maybe for the privilege of owning a nice TiVo remote as well--splitting the profits with TiVo, of course.

Elsewhere on the TiVo front, the company is edging closer to the release of its Series3 boxes. The TiVo Web site now includes a prominent teaser link which allows you to submit your e-mail address for more info once it becomes available. Unlike the Cox/Comcast "software" TiVos, the Series3 box will replace your existing cable box. Based on information from its cameo appearance at January's Consumer Electronics Show, the Series3 box is said to offer dual digital tuners (the ability to record two digital or high-def channels simultaneously) in addition to all of the features available in current TiVo models. Because it utilizes two CableCard tuners, it should work with any digital cable provider in the United States.

Note: CNET Networks is one of several content providers for TiVo's TiVoCast broadband video service.