Comcast replaces TiVo/Rovi with Gracenote for metadata

Comcast Sports Extra

LAS VEGAS—Gracenote has replaced TiVo Corp. as the principal metadata vendor for Comcast’s X1 platform, sources close to the transition told FierceCable at the CES trade show.

According to these individuals, the switchover involved an 18-month conversion process involving 50 Gracenote staffers, with Gracenote taking over the metadata for Comcast’s advanced video platform following the August presentation of the Summer Olympic Games.

Neither Comcast, Gracenote nor TiVo immediately responded to FierceCable’s inquiry for comment and confirmation.

The switchover isn’t necessarily a state secret, either. In November, a month before Tribune Media announced the sale of Gracenote to Nielsen, Tribune CEO Peter Liguori noted that in September, “Comcast rolled out Gracenote's video metadata to 22 million set-top boxes across the country. Gracenote powers Xfinity, Comcast's state-of-the-art video offerings, with real-time up-to-the-minute sports, video and music data. This promises to be a major addition to Gracenote's revenue, profitability and innovation for years to come.”

Gracenote metadata is used for a wide variety of X1 functionality. For example, it powers sports features that allow a user to call up a football player's stats merely by asking for them via the X1 Voice Remote.

According to one source, Comcast made the switch due to its ongoing patent litigation with TiVo. Before Rovi purchased TiVo for $1.1 billion last year and changed its name to TiVo, it filed a lawsuit against Comcast alleging violation of 14 patents, some of which relate to remote DVR recording through X1.

A TiVo exec, who wasn’t authorized to speak to FierceCable, said he had no knowledge as to when and if that suit might be settled. 

RELATED: Nielsen buys Gracenote in bid to boost audience measurement capabilities

Just before the holiday, media research company Nielsen announced that it’s buying Gracenote from Tribune Media for $560 million. 

RELATED: Comcast counter-sues Rovi, says tech company needs to settle patent beef in NYC, not Texas

Among its many product lines, Gracenote provides the program listings to pretty much every major pay-TV operator in North America.  It also has developed sophisticated program analysis tools that were key to Nielsen’s interest.