TiVo buys Vewd as it explores making own operating system

The TiVo Stream 4K Android TV dongle. (Photo by Matthew Keys, Graphic by The Desk)

Xperi, the parent company of TiVo, has purchased Norway-based Vewd as the company continues to develop its own smart television operating system.

The deal was valued at $109 million and will see Vewd’s 275 employees join Xperi in the coming weeks.

“Xperi’s TiVo product offerings, when integrated with Vewd’s suite of streaming platform solutions, will help accelerate and scale the deployment of TiVo OS for connected TVs and expand our video-over-broadband offerings,” Jon Kirchner, the chief executive of Xperi, said in a statement this week.

Xperi purchased TiVo three years ago in a deal valued at around $3 billion. Since then, it has shifted TiVo’s focus away from its legacy digital video recorder (DVR) hardware products toward developing streaming TV devices that use a variant of Android TV coupled with TiVo’s content discovery software.

As Android’s parent company Google has focused on developing Android TV into its own content discovery system — which it calls Google TV — Xperi has decided to move away from Android TV as a long-term solution for its smart TV devices, instead choosing to focus on developing its own operating system that will power TiVo-branded streamers at some point in the future.

The Vewd acquisition is expected to help Xperi fulfill this mission, Kirchner said this week.

“Vewd’s global reach and expertise in providing support to content owners, TV OEMs, and SoC partners as they deploy middleware and OS solutions across various devices is tremendously valuable and further paves the way for additional monetization opportunities as we expand our global footprint of streaming devices,” the CEO said.

Less clear is whether Xperi will continue focusing on the American market as it seeks to expand globally. Domestically, the smart television industry is dominated by two platforms: Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Adoption of Google TV has grown over the last few years as more companies — including Google itself — offer cheaper streaming dongles to compete with Amazon Fire TV and Roku and as Google has taken a developer-agnostic approach toward its platform. Apple, which offers the high-priced Apple TV streaming box, is a distant fourth in the platforms race.

Only Amazon has seen broad adoption of its smart TV platform used internationally, with Roku, Android TV and Apple TV struggling to get users onto their platform outside of North America. That has given upstarts like Comcast and Xperi a green light to push into those territories: Comcast recently began offering its X1 platform on Sky set-top boxes and other devices in the United Kigndom, and Xperi has signaled its interest in expanding into international markets with its own TiVo-developed smart operating system in the future.

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