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Suddenlink is Big on the Mini

By Brett Sappington 

U.S. cable operator Suddenlink announced that it would offer the TiVo Mini to its subscribers in several locations in advance of the product's retail release later this spring. The Mini is a small, IP-based set-top box that provides a variety of features for second and third TVs in the home, including whole home DVR and the ability to pause in one room and play in another. Importantly, the Mini can only be used in homes that have a TiVo Premiere set-top box, which drives much of the Mini's functionality.

TiVo's Mini is an example of a growing trend in CPE hardware among pay TV providers. Rather than investing in expensive set-top box hardware for each TV in the home, many operators are moving to a single, full-featured gateway box that is linked to several thin client boxes. DISH Networks' Hopper/Joey combination is another example of this type of architecture. While lowering CPE costs is the primary motivator for pay TV providers to adopt this approach, growth in broadband throughput into US homes as well as innovations in cloud-based features make thin client boxes feasible. With the emergence of cloud-based DVR, user interfaces, and discovery, more pay TV providers are likely to add thin client boxes or to deliver pay TV features directly to CE devices in the future. 

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