Some news in the DVR industry today – BSkyB is buying DVR vendor Amstrad. BSkyB is the leading satellite TV vendor in the UK and Ireland, as well as being a major content provider with a number of Sky Television channels. Similar to DirecTV, a large stake of BSkyB is held by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (I believe they hold about 39% of BSkyB, compared to about 40% of DirecTV.)
A number of changes implemented at DirecTV after the News Corp acquisition originated with BSkyB. BSkyB tightly controls all of the features and branding of their products. All of the BSkyB set-top boxes are branded BSkyB and must follow the same specifications. One of the first changes at DirecTV was pulling the licensed for 3rd parties like Sony to manufacture DirecTV receivers, and re-branded all of their hardware as ‘DirecTV’ instead of have different consumer electronics brands selling receivers.
Amstrad reportedly produces about one-third of BSkyB’s Sky+ STBs, as one of three vendors along with NDS and Thomson. This is interesting because News Corp also controls NDS and NDS is a STB and DVR vendor to BSkyB, as well as DirecTV. This acquisition of Amstrad could indicate a shift away from NDS’s platform for BSkyB, bringing a vendor fully in house. Once BSkyB closes the acquisition and wholly owns Amstrad, it would be much more cost effective to use that in-house platform than to purchase from NDS.