Rovi May Finally Get On CE Devices Through Sonic Buy

Rovi (s ROVI) has long tried to convince consumer electronics manufacturers to let it power program guides on their connected devices. Well it could soon have some technology embedded on TVs, Blu-ray players and other broadband-connected CE products, thanks to a planned acquisition of digital video specialist Sonic Solutions. (s SNIC)

Rovi announced plans to acquire Sonic on Wednesday in a deal valued at $720 million, or a 38 percent premium over its 30-day average. According to the terms of the acquisition, Sonic shareholders can choose to receive either $14.00 or 0.2489 shares of Rovi common stock for each share tendered and accepted in the exchange offer. Once that exchange offer is complete, Rovi plans to acquire any outstanding shares of Sonic common stock and make Sonic a wholly owned subsidiary.

Rovi provides metadata and electronics program guide solutions to service providers looking to fill out information about content available through their program lineups and on-demand libraries. But over the last few years, it has attempted to reposition itself to provide similar data and technology to consumer electronics manufacturers that are introducing over-the-top video services on their connected devices.

In July 2009 it introduced a new programming guide technology for connected devices called Liquid — later dubbed TotalGuide — but despite signing up some content partners for the guide, it has yet to announce many actual customers. The one customer it did announce with the rollout of the Liquid guide two summers ago was Blockbuster On Demand, which was using the guide to integrate services like YouTube and CinemaNow. But the Blockbuster technology — and CinemaNow (now called RoxioNow) video on demand service — was essentially run by Sonic, which acts as a white-label video distribution service for some major brands and CE makers.

In addition to Blockbuster, Sonic’s RoxioNow platform also powers over-the-top video services for companies like Best Buy, (s BBY) Sears Holdings (s SHLD) and others, and as such has found its way onto a number of connected devices already. In its press release, Rovi says the RoxioNow platform will be embedded on more than 30 million connected devices by mid-2011. Through its acquisition of DivX earlier this year, Sonic — and now Rovi — also has access to an additional 300 million already shipped devices that support the DivX video format.

This isn’t the only acquisition Rovi has done this year: In May, it announced the purchase of MediaUnbound, which provides media recommendation technology. Now with its own metadata, MediaUnbound’s recommendation engine and Sonic’s existing footprint with device manufacturers, Rovi may finally get some customers for the program guide technology it’s been building for the last few years.

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