Telstra gains access to TiVo intellectual property under licensing deal

The 'long-term' IP licence agreement will give Telstra access to TiVo's device and application technology portfolios.

TiVo Corporation has announced reaching a multi-year deal with Australian telecommunications carrier Telstra for the latter to gain access to its intellectual property (IP) on devices and applications.

TiVo, which bills itself as a "global leader in entertainment technology and audience insights", said the licensing agreement would help the company to continue growing in Australia.

"Our long-term relationship with Telstra demonstrates how video service providers around the world enter into licence agreements with TiVo to reach consumers with more innovative features and services," Arvin Patel, executive VP and chief intellectual property officer of Rovi Corporation, a TiVo company, said.

"This announcement marks TiVo's continued growth in the Australian market and the value our intellectual property brings to operators like Telstra, looking to bring advanced experiences to TV and beyond."

According to TiVo, it has spent "decades" funding and undertaking media and entertainment technology research and development (R&D), which Telstra can now take advantage of.

Telstra has previously worked with Roku on its streaming devices, with the telco having launched the second iteration of its Telstra TV media box in October.

The newest Telstra TV made by Roku has a free-to-air TV tuner; high-efficiency video codec (HEVC) support; a quad-core MStar processor; 2GB of DRAM; 512MB of additional storage; 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi support; 2160p 4K UHD with HDR support; and HDMI 2.0.

The box is included in Telstra's AU$99 home broadband bundles, or is available for purchase for AU$192.

"We know that the high-quality digital experiences we are providing to more Australians will continue to differentiate and drive value for our mobile and broadband customers," Telstra's executive director of media Michele Garra said at the time.

"Our partnership with Roku, a pioneer of streaming to the TV, has made the new Telstra TV possible. Roku and Telstra have worked together to custom build the device and bring this brilliant experience to Australia."

She added that Telstra is looking into voice activation, personalised recommendations, and partnering with more content providers in future.

According to Telstra CEO Andy Penn, the Telstra TV launch was part of the telco's vision to be a "world-class technology company".

"Telstra TV is a perfect example of how we can build software and service layers on top of our leading networks to provide new value and differentiated experiences for our customers," Penn said last year.

Penn had in August announced the launch of the second Telstra TV after launching the original Telstra TV -- also made by Roku -- in October 2015.

The first Telstra TV was the fastest-selling streaming device in Australia, according to Telstra, exceeding the Google Chromecast and Apple TV in sales.

Telstra has been putting greater emphasis on the availability of media streaming services to win and retain customers, such as the inclusion of Foxtel packages in its post-paid mobile plans and Telstra's AFL and NRL apps.

Rival telco Optus is also focusing on media content, on Tuesday announcing that it has extended its exclusive Australian broadcast rights of the English Premier League (EPL) out to 2022, which it provides access to via its Fetch TV set-top box.

"[The acquisition] feeds exactly into what our strategy is -- if you think about it, at the end of the day, where we want to take Optus is to be able to offer a premium mobile network to our customers, premium content, and all at an affordable price or a competitive price," Optus CEO Allen Lew told ZDNet.

"So I think extending the Premier League for the next three seasons until 2022 allows us to continue engender in our customers' minds that we are not just about building networks."

Optus' self-described transformation into a multimedia company began with its original acquisition of the exclusive Australian broadcast rights for the EPL back in November 2015 and continued with its entertainment partnership with National Geographic last year.

Australia's third-largest telco, Vodafone, also launched its own smart TV box in March.

Vodafone TV is powered by Android TV, but was made specifically for Vodafone's customisations, with 4K HD resolution, Netflix and YouTube access, Google voice search, a free-to-air tuner, dual-band Wi-Fi, and access to the Google Play Store's apps and games.

It costs AU$120 upfront, or can be paid off by post-paid customers for AU$5 per month for 24 months.

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