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Rovi plus Sonic plus Divx begins to look irresistible

In the dying days of 2010 after the last issue of Faultline, TV IP specialist Rovi, the company that brought together the Macrovision content protecti


Published: 6 January, 2011


In the dying days of 2010 after the last issue of Faultline, TV IP specialist Rovi, the company that brought together the Macrovision content protection technologies with the Gemstar TV Guide EPG patents, agreed to spend $720 million to buy online movie streaming specialist Sonic Solutions.

Sonic has made the headlines lately for providing the technology (and content rights) behind multiple online film services including those with some of the biggest retailers in the US (such as Kmart) and with Blockbuster. The deal was done as an all share transaction valuing Sonic at over 38% above its 30 day average agreement at $14.17.

Rovi of late has been pushing its TotalGuide, an online content engine for offering content discovery and vital search metadata, along with advertising techniques. Sonic is also known for Blu-ray and DVD video production as well as its online video services.

Sonic has licensed its internet delivery infrastructure now known as RoxioNow, to major retailers, movie studios and CE manufacturers. RoxioNow has a catalog of 10,000 movies and TV programs, accessible through connected CE devices such as digital televisions, Blu-ray players and mobile phones.

Sonic says its RoxioNow technology will be on over 30 million connected devices by June 2011. Sonic also bought DivX in June last year for $323 million in cash and stock and that offering sits on some 350 million CE devices and is downloaded over 100 million times a year. If Sonic could somehow reach all those DiVX homes with RoxioNow, the outcome could be quite spectacular, but it doesn’t really have the international contents rights as yet.

The TotalGuide software from Rovi has already turned up on the Google TV set top box and given that RoxioNow and TotalGuide have already been integrated, how long before it turns up, with all that content, on the Google TV as well. Google TV could certainly do with it, about as much as the UI could do with a re-write.

The deal has already been approved by both Boards of Directors. Rovi has already said that it will raise its revenue estimates to between $538 and $542 million for the year.

When they were separate, Macrovision and Gemstar were fairly weak and in Gemstar’s case spent years in court proving its patents were good. Together they have been far stronger, and with the addition of both the traditional Sonic business, and its new online business bought from CinemaNow, and the powerful DiVX codec and potential CE distribution, it is really beginning to have teeth as a TV based IP engine. Today the business is worth about $6.8 billion and it has only to suck in TiVO and the placeshifting patents at EchoStar to have all the worthwhile TV patents on the planet in one place. Both are currently affordable, though they remain tied up legally right now.


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