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Keen expands S-A relationship, launches 100-hour PVR sidecar

Sun, 11/18/2001 - 7:00pm
Jeff Baumgartner

Keen Personal Media has expanded its personal video recorder relationship with Scientific-Atlanta Inc., and announced a new PVR sidecar capable of storing 100 hours of video.

In the first announcement, Keen said S-A made an undisclosed investment in Keen via the purchase of a convertible bridge note and warrants to purchase shares of Keen.

Keen CEO and President Russ Krapf wouldn't disclose the specific terms of S-A's investment, although S-A's investment will give it a minority stake in Keen.

Tied to that deal, S-A also agreed to license Keen's complete "TV4me" PVR software platform. That deal complements one made last year in which S-A licensed Keen's storage management subsystem software for the PVR-capable Explorer 8000 digital set-top. The expanded deal also includes PVR sidecar software support for S-A's Explorer 2000-class boxes.

While there are some architectural differences for Keen's PVR software on Explorer 2000s and 8000s, both versions are compatible with each other, Krapf said.

"Our joint efforts will enable cable operators to offer to their customers access to a wide range of personal interactive TV services without purchasing a separate and expensive retail PVR device," added S-A Vice President of Product Strategy and Management Bob Van Orden, in a press release.

Keen also introduced a 100-hour, cable-centric PVR sidecar, which is expected to enter trials and volume deployments early next year. To date, Keen has test agreements with four different MSOs, including Adelphia Communications.

Keen also markets a PVR sidecar capable of holding 50 hours of video. Both sidecars are designed to "sync up" with the set-top's resident interactive program guide.

Krapf said Keen is also working on a sidecar that talks to Motorola Broadband's line of DCT-cable boxes via active serial ports, and expects to demonstrate that arrangement during next week's Western Cable Show in Anaheim, Calif.

Krapf wouldn't disclose hardware pricing for the new sidecar, but said he expects MSOs to rent or lease the box to customers for less than $10 per month.

AT&T Broadband is taking a different approach via its recently announced, non-exclusive deal with Tivo Inc. Instead of renting or leasing the box, AT&T Broadband is selling a new 40-hour Tivo sidecar for $299, plus a monthly $9.95 service fee or a $249 "lifetime services contract," to customers in select markets. Instead of integrating directly with a set-top's on-screen guide, the AT&T Broadband-Tivo set-up uses IR (infrared) blasters to send communications between the sidecar and the set-top.

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