TiVo, Virgin team for U.K. set-top boxes

Six years after U.S. group stopped selling DVRs in Britain

LONDON -- TiVo has signed a deal with U.K. cable operator Virgin Media to launch jointly branded set top boxes here, six years after being outgunned in the U.K. by competition from News Corporation-owned BSkyB.

TiVo has signed a deal with Virgin Media to launch co-branded set top boxes that will deliver catch-up HD television from Virgin, as well as a television-over-the-Internet services including the BBC iPlayer and itv.com, the companies said Tuesday.

Virgin has around three million cable television viewers, and the two companies expect the boxes to go on sale here in 2010.

TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said the deal would deliver "next generation" entertainment.

"Virgin Media is a true leader in the world of entertainment and their enthusiasm for building the next generation of pay television is an excellent opportunity to put all of TiVo's innovation to work in a product distributed by a world class partner," said Rogers.

"We believe this international deal affords us a significant subscriber growth opportunity," he added.

TiVo launched a U.K. service in 2001, around the same time that Virgin's bigger rival BSkyB launched its Sky Plus service, which now has around six and a half million active users. TiVo eventually backed out of the U.K. market in 2003.