NEW YORK/LAS VEGAS TiVo Inc. (TIVO.O) said on Monday it hopes to start testing its first integrated digital video recorder service with Comcast Corp. (CMCSA.O), the leading U.S. cable operator, this spring, two years after they reached an agreement to develop the service.
The companies had signed a deal in March 2005 to offer Comcast subscribers the option to download TiVo's DVR software and interface to their cable set-top boxes.
"We're going to be starting the initial market launch in the springtime," Jeff Klugman, senior vice president for TiVo's Service Provider division, said by telephone.
The two companies demonstrated the service for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday. They said the new service will allow subscribers to use TiVo's features with Comcast's video-on-demand and high-definition service.
Klugman said TiVo's search features will make it easier for consumers to find all types of programming, including Comcast's 8,000 hours of video-on-demand service, in a more compelling way than hunting through menu pages.
Comcast, which has over 24 million subscribers, will be the first U.S. cable operator to offer a TiVo interface service. The No. 4 U.S. cable operator, Cox Communications, also signed a deal with TiVo in August 2006 to offer a similar service to its customers later this year.
But TiVo watchers have been expecting a service to roll out with Comcast subscribers since the partnership was first announced nearly two years ago.
"I don't think it's taken an extraordinarily long time; we care a great deal that our product looks great and they care about building it in a way that really reduces their operational support costs," said Klugman.
The Comcast set-top box technical trial was one of several announcements made by TiVo at CES, where TiVo launched a To Go service compatible with Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL.O) range of Macintosh computers.
TiVo also expanded its range of services in the living room to include music with two new partnerships with RealNetworks Inc.'s (RNWK.O) Rhapsody digital music service and Music Choice, which offers music-related broadband video content. Both services will be available later this year.