Could Virgin Media now have the muscle to seriously worry Sky?
In its third quarter fiscal results US digibox powerhouse Tivo has announced a partnership with Branson's boys that will see it enter the UK market. Little was split about the deal with Tivo simply stating:
"Today, we announced a long-term, strategic partnership with Virgin Media, one of the largest international cable operators and the UK's single largest cable system, to offer Virgin Media's nearly four million UK customers TiVo's advanced television software and user interface on both its traditional and DVR set-top boxes, including TiVo's broadband to the television capabilities."
Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media, added: "Our fibre-optic network combined with Tivo's capabilities will allow us to offer consumers the most significantly advanced and compelling TV service available in the UK."
Looking for more I spoke the Virgin Media directly, though they were only able to confirm: "We're working with TiVo to develop middleware and user interface software to power our next-generation set top boxes. There will be some co-branding within the final product - details TBC - but this deal doesn't involve specific channels and is not a merger."
It may not be a merger, but it certainly is strengthening. We'll need to know more before drawing any strong conclusions, but it seems like Sky could face some serious competition in 2010.
In related news Freesat has announced beta trials of BBC iPlayer will go live on the service from 7 December. The on-demand service will work on all existing Freesat HD equipment and comes completely free. ITV Player is also in the works for a Freesat launch in the first half of 2010.
Your move Sky...
Update: Could this be a motivation for the Tivo deal: Collapsing US sales?