TiVo Is Dead? Again?

Let’s face it… if you’re a journalist, bashing TiVo is good for business. Very few companies inspire the cult-like loyalty and name recognition (a small player like) TiVo enjoys. There’s nothing like a negatory article to energize the masses. That could explain why every few months both the Motley Fool and Phillip Swann of TV Predictions claim TiVo is dying and/or will be acquired.

While it’s possible TiVo may die or be bought, their reasoning is illogical. Both point to TiVo’s Valentine’s Day mixer as a red flag. Do critics chime in that McDonalds is doomed whenever they release a bizarre television commercial? TiVo’s ultimate success or failure cannot (and should not) be gauged by a small marketing experiment designed to excite fans.

It’s true TiVo will lose a ton of subscribers when their deal with DirecTV expires. However, Comcast has roughly twice as many potential customers (~32 million) as DTV. It’s true TiVo’s release of the Series 3 HD model is taking too long. However, many of us will wait patiently for a HD stand-alone box while TiVo continues to add Series 2 subscribers. It’s true TiVo has not been profitable with the exception of one quarter. However, TiVo is investing in themselves by acquiring customers. Not to mention, it’s that critical mass of subscribers which has allowed them to sell more advertising at presumably higher rates.

In all likelihood, TiVo will never die. This kind of branding and buzz would be snapped up in a heartbeat if the current management team failed and TiVo were in trouble. More importantly, DVR technology is here to stay. I’m fine with competition in the marketplace — it forces companies to innovate and keep prices reasonable.

I know you visit my site for the hard-hitting journalism ;), so I asked the question many of us have been wondering… and during a brief email exchange Phillip Swann informed me he owns “zero stock.”

Swanni says: Unlike TiVo, tech companies such as Apple and Google have enjoyed remarkable success in the last year. So they are now getting the overwhelming (and sometimes gushing) coverage that TiVo once enjoyed. Tech reporters — like everyone else in the media — loves a winner, or at least the appearance of a winner. Apple and Google now look like winners while TiVo looks like a loser.

Fool says: If there’s anything the Olympics bring to mind, it’s the thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat. Not that TiVo’s a full-on defeat, but for the past couple of years, “disappointment” seems to be a reasonable word to describe the company. I was once a TiVo bull — I even owned shares long ago — but lately it seems as if TiVo has stalled out in the innovation department.

2 thoughts on “TiVo Is Dead? Again?”

  1. I would have to agree that Tivo has been falling down in innovation. Also there product is getting more and more tied to DRM and they arel loosing feature control along with control of their customers with the deals with sat and cable companies who ultimately want a very different kind of experience for their customers then Tivo lends it’s self to. They should be embracing openness but I can’t see how they can do that and balance the demands of the IP owners and purveyors they keep killing themselves to get in bed with. Sadly that only harms their core customers and ultimately will cannibalize the business they can make the most money on, opening themselves wide to replacement and or more likely acquisition and fade away like Replay.

  2. Here’s what it boils down to — is Tivo making a profit? Are they likely to make a profit in the near future? The answer on both counts is a pretty clear “no”.

    I don’t see the effect of this supposed “branding” and “buzz” anywhere but in the Tivo community, where it’s not doing a whole lot of good. That’s only worth a penny (at most) on the dollar.

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