Roku signs multiyear licensing deal with Tivo, but the long-term goal is murky

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A little less than a year ago, TiVo was acquired by video metadata company Rovi for $1.1 billion, giving the newly merged company a library of more than 6,000 patents. Now, Roku has access to those patents, thanks to a deal between the two companies announced by TiVo on Wednesday.

“This license agreement with Roku underscores the importance of TiVo’s comprehensive patent portfolios for the fast-growing streaming entertainment industry,” Samir Armaly, executive vice president of intellectual property for TiVo parent company Rovi, said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting Roku with innovative entertainment enhancements that will be enjoyed for years to come by its current and future customers.”

Given that the name TiVo is essentially synonymous with DVRs, it would be easy to speculate that Roku could be looking at offering a stand-alone DVR or building DVR technology into Roku TVs. The companies have remained tight-lipped so far, so this possibility can’t be ruled out entirely, but given the rise of streaming services as the go-to source of entertainment for many people, it’s not likely to be the case.

So what will we see out of this new deal? For now, that remains a mystery, but there is some key wording in TiVo’s announcement that offers a few clues. TiVo says that the deal includes “an option for Roku to access TiVo’s high-quality entertainment metadata,” as well as “other TiVo products to further power intuitive search and navigation.” Combined with the recent Roku OS update that allows users to opt-in and have their Roku TV track their viewing habits in order to make suggestions, this could mean that Roku is looking to expand its suggestions feature even further.

Roku isn’t the only company to have made this type of deal, as both Netflix and HBO recently made similar deals with TiVo.

It will likely be a while before we see the results of this deal, but chances are good that we’ll see them in the next line of Roku devices.

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