Editor's Corner—Arris looks to challenge TiVo’s U.S. Tier 2 market with Android TV set-top line

Editor's Corner Dan Frankel AMSTERDAM—While it has successfully partnered with TiVo to create ready-made advanced TV solutions for Tier 2 cable operators in the U.S., Arris is quietly developing its own toolset that will enable it to compete with TiVo for the same market.

Showcasing Arris’ new line of Android TV-powered set-tops at IBC, Duncan Potter, senior VP of marketing for the Suwanee, Georgia-based vendor, sheepishly grinned as I noted that potential application for the product line. 

“TiVo is a partner,” Potter insisted, while seeming to take a gulp of canary. He had just outlined operator client needs in Europe and Latin America, where Tier 1 pay-TV companies not named Liberty Global are looking to enter new countries with fully realized advanced TV platforms. 

RELATED: Arris unveils Android TV-powered 4K set-tops at IBC

The new Arris boxes allow operators to deliver their own branded services in 4K/HDR video, while also delivering a full range of Google OTT services, including YouTube and Google Play transactional offerings.

Arris won’t say it overtly, but its new Android TV devices fit right in with the demands of Tier 2 U.S. operators, who have largely turned to TiVo for ready-made solutions that combine linear pay-TV services with integrated OTT platforms. As of August, TiVo’s advanced TV solutions were in 23 million homes globally, most of them delivered through cable operators. 

But what happens if Google gets bored and abandons Android TV, as it has with other video technologies in the past? The new IP devices are fully capable of delivering another advanced TV solution, Potter said. 

RELATED: OTT integration into pay-TV set-tops set to accelerate, Metrological exec says

Integrating popular OTT services into linear pay-TV platforms was a prominent topic at IBC. The show began last week right after Comcast declared that its integration of YouTube into its vaunted X1 video UX had finally been completed. Greg Riker, senior VP of Americas for a cloud-tech vendor that helped Comcast with that integration, Rotterdam-based Metrological Group, said at an IBC roundtable event early on at the show that we can expect the dam to finally break open with other OTT integration deals: Think Comcast’s integration of CBS Sports Fantasy Football. 

“Now that you’ve got this infrastructure in place, you’ll see many other integrations without the financial pain that would traditionally happen,” Riker said. 

RELATED: Alticast boasts of possible integrator role for Comcast's white-label X1

Amid the current wave of cable operator consolidation, Metrological has been one of the luckier vendors. It’s had the recent opportunity to provide advanced TV integration solutions to global pay-TV giants Comcast and Liberty Global, which increasingly serve their own software stacks with their own development labs. 

Beyond just Comcast, the U.S. market has grown increasingly monolithic, with Altice importing technologies from its French labs to, among other things, build its new video CPE platform in the U.S.

At IBC, I talked to another vendor looking for a niche in this challenging U.S. market, Korea’s Alticast, which had a pretty good thing going at one time providing set-top middleware to Time Warner Cable and Cablevision. Charter is in the process of converting acquired TWC customers to its Worldbox platform, and Altice USA has the erstwhile Cablevision’s set-top software stack spoken for through technologies developed by Alice Labs. 

Notably, however, Comcast’s syndication efforts for X1 might yield new business for Alticast, as licensors including Canada’s Rogers Communications look for cost-effective technologies to deliver their white-label versions of X1 to their customers. — Dan | @FierceCable