Deeper Dive—Amazon and TiVo race for cable provider customers

Amazon Fire TV Cube
Amazon Fire TV Cube (Amazon)

Tucked into their respective product announcements at CES, both Amazon and TiVo revealed plans to deepen their push into traditional pay TV and broadband homes.

Amazon introduced a new Fire TV Edition for Operators. The company said it will provide a customized and cost-effective way for cable operators and telecoms to get Fire TV devices out to their customers. The company promised to deliver “the best solution that fits their customer and business needs as well as providing merchandising opportunities.”

Amazon has already set Fire TV partnerships with Tata Sky in India and Verizon in the United States, and Fire TV is expanding the device offerings available to operators. The company is working with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) so its members can sell low-cost Fire TV streaming media players directly to their customers. NCTC has over 750 members, including independent cable and telecommunication operators.

Device partnerships with pay TV operators is an idea that’s been on Amazon’s mind for years. At FierceVideo’s Pay TV Show in 2018, Amazon’s Richard Au – who at the time was the director of U.S. Prime Video Channels and Sports – was asked about a scenario in which smaller cable operators might ask to use Fire TV Sticks and Amazon Alexa in place of cable set-top boxes. He said his company would be more than willing to work on a partnership like that.

Amazon said that Fire TV now has more than 40 million active users on the platform and if the company can pipe more of its devices into homes via pay TV partnerships – alongside its ongoing retail streaming device sales and growing smart TV platform business – it’s likely the company could greatly expand that total.

Amazon could also better position itself to compete with established pay TV hardware/software providers like TiVo. Perhaps sensing that growing competition, TiVo also made a move to grab more pay TV customers.

TiVo

TiVo rolled out its new TiVo Stream 4K device at CES. In addition to selling the device through retail channels, the company plans to market Stream 4K in partnership with multichannel video programming distributors that want to offer TiVo Stream 4K to their broadband-only subscribers. Schurz Communications is the first MVPD to commit to a co-marketing relationship with TiVo.

“Schurz is thrilled to be working with TiVo on this exciting project,” said Tom Williams, CTO, Schurz Communications. “TiVo Stream 4K will enhance the relationship Schurz has with our very important broadband-only subscribers.”

TiVo already has a well-established pay TV provider business where it tailors its hardware and platform for cable companies. However, as giants like Comcast build out and invest in platforms like Flex that are directed toward broadband-only subscribers, TiVo is clearly seeing an opportunity to do something similar with its smaller cable partners who might not have the resources to build a product like Flex.

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