The Day in TiVo

Photo by Zandir

As TiVo, Inc (TIVO) often does, they put out a pair of small news releases to coincide with earnings yesterday. First, they announced a business relationship with embedded cable software company Alticast:

“Teaming with Alticast allows global video providers to offer the unique combination of TiVo’s award winning user interface, advertising solutions, and broadband television functionality on set top boxes running Alticast’s industry standard embedded software for ITV applications,” said Joshua Danovitz, Vice President and GM of International at TiVo. “We hear from cable, satellite and IPTV operators around the world that they want better middleware solutions capable of quickly bringing TiVo applications to market and Alticast is in the pole position to fulfill this need.  We look forward to their cooperation in making the TiVo experience available on a broad range of platforms, both in the United States and around the world, similar to the way that we have developed platforms for Comcast and Cox.”

Given the speed of TiVo’s Comcast and Cox development (and rollout), it’s not a bad idea to lean on others for assistance. Especially those with penetration in foreign environments (both figuratively and literally). However, as a geek gadget blogger, this doesn’t particularly interest me… until they have something to deliver. Related, TiVo announced a second partnership with video-on-demand (VOD) provider SeaChange:

“By teaming with SeaChange we are enabling cable operators without OCAP/tru2way deployment plans to increase the breadth and depth of their offering by quickly deploying TiVo set-top boxes that seamlessly integrate VOD in a single, intuitive TiVo interface,” said Tom Rogers, TiVo’s president and chief executive officer. “This solution also enables participating MSOs to take their on-demand offering to a whole new level by highlighting VOD titles within TiVo universal search results.  And the beauty of this is that it can be achieved faster and at a lower cost than most solutions that have been available to cable operators to date.”

Seems like this one’s about empowering smaller or, perhaps, International cable providers to offer and/or profit from TiVo units. Given TiVo’s small, shrinking (see below) footprint and previous rural outreach, I’m not sure this one has legs. We mat begin to find out “later this year.”

And then we have the earnings call, itself. No news on additional Comcast (CMCSA) deployments, beyond New England. Supposedly Cox trials are going well and the initial rollout is expected to begin in the first half of 2009. TiVo, Inc had a bit more to say on the renewed DirecTV (DTV) initiative:

“Additionally, we continue to work on our new DIRECTV HD DVR. The new HD DVR will include popular TiVo broadband features, and will be immediately accessible to DIRECTV’s entire national customer base on day-one of the launch. We have had a very successful history with DIRECTV and those subscribers are some of our most loyal customers.

I gave one of my TiVo contacts a call to dig deeper. Specifically, I’m interested in learning more about the hardware platform, who’s providing it, and if they’re resetting expectations regarding the possibility of a 2009 launch. Unfortunately, TiVo remains tight lipped and I came away with no new or additional info.

As this was an earnings call, the audience is obviously the investment community… and the info TiVo led with was their “First Full Year of Profitability”. That they would have recorded even without the $100+ million EchoStar patent infringement payment. However, these cost savings are a result of continued, reduced marketing expenditures, not new customers. In fact, “TiVo-owned” subscriptions (stand-alone units) remain stagnant while industry-wide DVR penetration continues to expand:

On a net basis, our Tivo owned subscriptions decreased by 4,000 in the fourth quarter and our Tivo owned subscription base ended the quarter at approximately 1.6 million subscriptions.

In addition to ratcheting back outreach and acquisition costs, TiVo should also see some savings from their recent reduction in force (RIF). Plus, they’re sitting on a $200+ million cash hoard.

8 thoughts on “The Day in TiVo”

  1. As one of those “most loyal customers” that is patiently waiting for the new DirecTiVo devices/software, it would be nice to hear a little bit more about what is going to be, rather then keep us in the dark.

    (actually, since it has been so dark for so long here in “most loyal customer”-land, even these little pinholes of light seem like a supernova!)

    Keep poking and prodding, Dave….

    (oh, and nice picture….is that your fence?) >[;)]=

  2. What happened to TiVo? Seriously. Feels like it should have made a move about 2 years ago, and now it’s just dying the death of a thousand (cable-inflicted?) paper cuts.

  3. I’m with you Mari. I’ve used several non-Tivo DVR options and have consistantly returned to Tivo has the best product choice for me. The cable DVRs are horrific (in general). Their managment team has made a mess of the business side of Tivo.

  4. Am I the only one who noticed this in the DIRECTV statement:

    “The new HD DVR will include popular TiVo broadband features…”

    Does that mean MRV? TTG? YouTube?


  5. No, you’re not the only one… I specifically quoted that portion of the release. As far as which features it will encompass, who knows. I’d say TiVoToGo is less likely than audio and picture media extender functionality. But what I’d really like to see is Multi-room Viewing and the Netflix app.

  6. TiVo – the little engine that could, turned cold corporate innovation stagnator.

    I used to have TiVo ( 2002 ) and really liked it, it was the ever increasing cost and the lock down, “no soup for you!” about face they did, that cause me to leave.

    Dear TiVo execs that read this blog – I implore you to fracture your product line to match the economic realities of 2009. Keep the ultra expensive TiVo XL HD with diamond encrusted remote but add a super cheap box too.

    Ultra basic box, with HD OTA support for $99 that includes one year of service and we the great unwashed will return to you.

    Double bonus WIN: greatly open up your Draconian API and third party developer network.

  7. Todd, while it’s officially locked down there are some good community-developed ways to get content on and off the box. Since TiVo hasn’t had any real or interesting news in quite some time, perhaps I”ll revisit some of these tools/methods.

  8. What’s with the Tivo on Comcast / Cox initiative? When was that announced? 2005? Wow were in 2009 now. Are they going to pull another Duke Nukem Forever ?

    The cable DVR’s are horrible. It appears as if they have the cheapest, crappiest software available. The boxes have some specs to them that make you think they could mimic Tivo, but no one’s made software good enough for it. Verizon’s REAL close. Just bring 16:9 support to the UI and they got it. Cable on the other hand is a downright failure.

    I’m thinking of Tivo, but two things really irk me about it. It still doesn’t look 16:9. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in all the online screen shots everything looks stretched horizontally. If I have a high resolution plasma TV, I want that screen real-estate taken advantage of. Secondly lack of Cable VOD integration. There’s lots of short clips and free shows from music videos, to enhancing the value of premium channels with their VOD counterpart. If this Seachange deal works, and it’s not another “boy who cries wolf” like the Comcast/Cox Tivo, perhaps Cable VOD Tivo Integration with that new interface shown on here a few months ago would sell me on one for sure.

Comments are closed.