Latest Virgin boxes can run TiVo

By Julian Clover
May 4, 2010 11.30 UK

Virgin Media’s recently introduced HD receiver is capable of running the cablenet’s TiVo middleware, CEO Neil Berkett has confirmed.

Berkett told an investor call that Virgin was on track to launch the TiVo service this autumn, though indicated that a major push would not begin until the New Year. “The V HD box that we have just launched is capable if we decide to take a download of the TiVo software,” said Berkett. “We will launch a new next generation V+ box DVR in the fourth quarter so you will have a few hundred thousand standard boxes in the market that could be capable of taking the TiVo software if we thought this was appropriate”.

Berkett compared the positioning of the TiVo middleware to the ‘Intel Inside’ concept. Although the boxes themselves would be branded Virgin, he said the user interface was analogous to an “inside branding” for TiVo.

The TiVo middleware that will offer Virgin customers a seamless experience between linear television and the web is a UK exclusive for the cablenet. Until such a time that TiVo is ready for deployment, the operator will continue to use the Liberate/TV Navigator middleware.

“We’re on track to have live boxes in the market by Christmas, to see a significant push into 2011 and we would look to see how in fact we embed that as part of our overall customer improvement and product set improvement that we would then look to monetise in some shape or form,” said Berkett.

Once the middleware is in place it seems likely Virgin will implement a modest price increase across the board. The company believes this to be a better economic model than larger increases on a smaller customer set.