Rovi signs new wide-ranging licensing deal with Sony

Rovi (Nasdaq: ROVI) announced this morning that it has signed a technology and patent licensing agreement with Sony (NYSE: SNE) covering components of Rovi's interactive program guide (IPG) and entertainment data solutions. Sony already uses Rovi's advertising services on its connected devices, and this latest agreement hints at both Rovi's increasing strength across a diversified portfolio, and possible truth in the rumors from last fall of Sony's ambitions in the TV services market.

There have been questions about Rovi's growth potential as it has expanded into new product and service categories over the last couple of years, and its recent history on the financial markets has been a bit rocky. However, Rovi has also continued to sign up customers, adding new consumer electronics companies, cable operators and advertisers to its client roster. The company confirmed to FierceCable this morning that the new deal with Sony includes technology from Rovi's TotalGuide product, which is currently in use by Panasonic (NYSE: PC), Toshiba, Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR), and Suddenlink, among others.

Sony's decision to license a broad range of technology from Rovi may indicate that rumors from last November about the company's desire to launch an Internet-based TV service are true. By taking greater control of the television experience, Sony is putting itself in a position to potentially brand a consumer-facing service. However, if that is the case, Sony still has numerous hurdles ahead of it. Programmers are still wary of working deals that bypass traditional pay-TV operators, and Sony could easily find itself in the same position as Microsoft, which shut down its own attempt at a television service back in January. 

For more:
- see the press release
- see this Wall Street Journal story

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