Comcast, Motorola ready DVR rollout

Deal is a blow to TiVo

Shares of digital video recording pioneer TiVo tumbled 12.5% Thursday as cable giant Comcast firmed up its rollout of similar technology along with set-top box maker Motorola.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, speaking at the Western Cable show in Anaheim, Calif., said the company has pacted with Motorola to roll out new integrated set-top box/digital video recorders starting in the first quarter of 2004. Boxes, which require digital cable service, will be available to 90% of the cabler’s 21 million sub base by the end of next year. Cost is believed to be around $10 per month, similar to the offering from Time Warner Cable, which employs Scientific Atlanta boxes.

Comcast had previously outlined its plan to push into DVRs during its third quarter earnings call in October.

But Roberts re-affirmation of its commitment to Motorola nevertheless came as a blow to TiVo, which has been trying secure its own technology licensing deal with a major cable operator.

Still, TiVo advocates maintain there’s still plenty of room left in the market for the standalone player since Comcast’s and Time Warner’s DVRs can be used only by digital cable subs, who represent only around 15% of U.S TV homes. Comcast currently claims around 7.3 million digital subscribers. TiVo is hoping its brand recognition and new combo DVD player/recorders will keep consumer interest strong even as DBS and cable providers step up their rollouts of integrated set-top-DVRs.

TiVo currently claims around 1 million subs, around half of which come via a joint marketing effort with DirecTV.