TiVo inks AT&T, Liberty Global, Sony patent-licensing deals and holds out hope for Comcast

TiVo Bolt DVR
A number of smaller cable operators sell TiVo's set top boxes and services.

TiVo said that it has signed patent-licensing agreements with AT&T, Liberty Global and Sony for Sony’s PlayStation Vue service. However, the company’s patent-licensing battle with Comcast remains ongoing, though TiVo executives said they expect the International Trade Commission (ITC) to issue a definitive ruling on the issue by Thursday of next week.

“Bringing Comcast under license remains one of our top priorities,” TiVo’s outgoing CEO Thomas Carson said yesterday during the company’s quarterly conference call with analysts, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the event. “While we’re pleased with the success we have had bringing the rest of the U.S. Pay TV market under license, as we have cautioned before, litigation can be a long process. However, we’re committed to taking the necessary steps and actions through the courts and other venues to ensure that our valuable intellectual property is properly respected by Comcast.”

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. That battle likely contributed to Comcast’s decision to replace TiVo with Gracenote as the principal metadata vendor for Comcast’s X1 platform.

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Nonetheless, TiVo’s Carson said yesterday that the company remains hopeful that the ITC will issue a final ruling that would require Comcast to become a TiVo licensee. “We remain hopeful that the ITC will affirm the key aspects from the initial determination, including the exclusion order barring Comcast from importing infringing products,” he said.

As TiVo continues to battle Comcast, Carson said the company continues to make progress on the intellectual property licensing front. He said during its most recent quarter TiVo inked a three-year patent licensing extension with AT&T, extending the license through 2025, and also renewed and extended its IP licensing deal with Liberty Global. He said TiVo inked a multiyear renewal with Sony, in part for Sony’s PlayStation Vue streaming service.

During its most recent quarter, TiVo’s IP licensing revenues grew by $11.2 million year-over-year to $94.3 million in the company’s third quarter. Overall, TiVo said its third-quarter revenues rose 29% to $197.9 million, though the company reported a net loss of $17 million. That figure represents a reversal from the $49.9 million net income the company reported a year ago (which included a $83.4 million tax benefit).

In other TiVo tidbits, the company said that fully 95% of its revenues during its most recent quarter came from software, services, advertising and licensing, and only 5% of its revenues came from hardware sales.

The company also said it is planning to release a new IPTV product in the first half of next year that Carson said will “enable Pay TV operators to deliver a great user experience with multi-screen and OTT functionality, but with much lower operational and deployment costs.”

Carson also said TiVo is planning to roll out a new interactive advertising service. “This solution will be available to customers that use the TiVo user experience or our search and recommendation product to allow more targeted and personalized promotions. Our continued advancements in data, advertising and search and recommendations are key areas of innovation, which we believe will drive future growth for our software and services business,” he said.

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