TiVo’s Resurgence Led By Virgin Media


TiVo reported quarterly earnings yesterday. And, as expected by just about everyone who follows the company (excluding AOL Daily Finance), TiVo announced subscriber gains for the first time in four years. The vast majority of those 117,000 net new subscribers come by way Virgin Media’s highly successful UK deployment of the TiVo experience (running on Cisco hardware).

Unfortunately, here in the US, TiVo continues to shed retail subscribers – with their net loss clocking in at 30,000 for the quarter. Stated another way, customer defections outpace new Premiere sales. I can’t say this came as a surprise either given TiVo’s limited platform enhancement and marketing in light of our complex MSO-dominated television market. Which is why TiVo continues to prioritize operator partnerships, like RCN, and patent litigation.

On those fronts, TiVo will head into court against Microsoft (regarding AT&T’s U-Verse DVR) and Motorola (regarding Verizon’s FiOS TV DVR) early next year. Speaking of next year, the continually delayed DirecTV TiVo is expected to finally see a nationwide rollout in 2012… although the companies are hopeful of launching in select markets this December. Unfortunately, we believe the product features TiVo’s former standard definition UI running on obsolete DirecTV hardware. Lastly, Comcast-TiVo video-on-demand integration field trials are underway with San Francisco expected to be the first market to come online.

14 thoughts on “TiVo’s Resurgence Led By Virgin Media”

  1. Interesting… nary a mention of TiVo’s partnership with Best Buy which includes marketing and the Insignia TiVo TV. Also, no mention of more granular stuff of interest to us retail customers like TiVo-to-TiVo streaming, an updated Netflix app, or a completed HDUI. But they do mention unifying the platform for efficiencies, although they had briefed me on a similar plan a few CESes ago…

  2. Why the hell don’t they bring the Cisco hardware to the US, (both for MSO and retail)?

    That might finally get me to upgrade from my trusty TiVo HD…

  3. Well… it sounds like the hardware procurement deal was done by Virgin. Also, it’s rumored they’re moving to Samsung hardware. Not that either of those items would preclude TiVo from implementing that hardware here in the states. But offering their own hw/sw platform bundle to smaller operators like RCN probably has some advantages (not including those escalating hard drive prices). It’ll be interesting to see if the perceived performance boost shown by the Virgin TiVos can be replicated on our Premiere hardware when software version 16 (or 20) is deployed sometime next year.

  4. Virgin is adding Samsung as a second source for STBs – but they’ll be using both Cisco and Samsung. http://www.gizmolovers.com/2011/09/13/correction-virgin-media-is-not-dropping-cisco-only-adding-samsung/ Probably to a) pit Cisco & Samsung against each other and get better pricing and b) ensure enough supply to feed their ambitious deployment schedule.

    I’m sure if an MSO in the US really wanted to use Cisco or Samsung hardware, TiVo would be happy to work with them just like Virgin Media and ONO. And even Technicolor, who make the new DirecTiVo and is providing the hardware for TiVo’s ongoing work for Scandinavia: http://giz.lv/umH9zq

  5. “I’m sure if an MSO in the US really wanted to use Cisco or Samsung hardware, TiVo would be happy to work with them just like Virgin Media and ONO. And even Technicolor, who make the new DirecTiVo and is providing the hardware for TiVo’s ongoing work for Scandinavia”

    I confess to being rather confused by all this.

    Why wouldn’t TiVo want to standardize on a single hardware platform themselves, and market that whole package to MSO’s (and retail)?

    Why write software to multiple hardware platforms when you can write to one and gain economies of scale?

  6. I wonder how many cord cutters bought into the August through November 15th $99 Premiere with $9.99 per month DVR fee. I will be done with Verizon FIOS by Saturday night. I know that the math works in favor of the Lifetime Service package but for now Paying $10 per month for TiVo, $16 per month for Vonage, $9 per month for Netflix and $30 for Comcast internet is pretty nice. As a bonus TiVo through in six months of Hulu Plus for free. I hope they replay the $9.99 special so I can add a bedroom TiVo.

  7. I wonder what percentage of the US customers who are leaving Tivo are S2 owners who are upgrading to cable/satellite HD DVRs and Blu-Ray players with internet connectivity? With all of the alternatives available to these customers today, what is the compelling reason for them to stay with Tivo?

  8. What kind of processing is the Tivo Cisco and Samsung box? Is it a much better, more efficient ARM CPU? What makes it easier to finish the HDGUI on that platform but not bring it to the homeland?

    Between an unfinished HDGUI and bringing an OLD tivo UI to OLD hardware on DirecTV, they have me disapointed.

    I bet if a finished 3 or more tuner box with multiroom came to retail and DirecTV in here, they would fare much better.

  9. The report on Engadget indicated Tivo activated the 2nd core on the Premiere, but I cannot confirm that anywhere else.

  10. Yeah, it was noticed first on the TiVo Community Forums after the update dropped. As Dave noted, it appears to have improved boot time by a factor of two but made little change (so far) in UI responsiveness.

  11. I have a Tivo HD for OTA and a Directv HR24 for satellite channels, we have a Tivo gen 1 (connected to the HR24 via composite) for my wife who is a quadriplegic and has no effective way to prevent the Directv screen saver from coming on (you have to use the remote for something) or worse yet, with Tivo series one (master bedroom, we can program channel changes throughout the day for her. With the two tuner Directv it records the programmed channel but plays (or streams to the Tivo) the channel not being recorded. There is no simple way to switch between tuners. You can fool the two tuner tivo hd by programming both tuners to record the same channel, so far I’ve not found a way to do that with the HR24.
    With whatever problems the old hardware presents, I will snap up what ever Tivo Directv can provide us, for our use it is a superior product.

  12. Count me in the camp feeling decidedly dismayed at Tivo’s retail offerings, these days. I’ve got an HD with Lifetime, and actually bought a Premiere at a discount on Woot, but word had leaked about what became the Elite before I got around to activating it.

    Pricing on the Elite is, to be frank, absurd. RCN rents the Premiere for $20 a month, and the Q plus the not-for-retail Replay for $30. Even if I charitably assume that the slightly-higher-spec Elite would rent for $30 by itself, it still puts the box+lifetime breakeven point at almost 3 years — by which point the system’s certain to be obsolete.

    Meanwhile, I can put together a more than capable quad-tuner MCE for the cost of the Elite hardware, and not pay a dime for service. This has taken a bit of geek cred in the past, but with the advent of USB cablecard tuners, I’d wager that most people willing to buy a retail TiVo would be up to the task.

    Sure, the core TiVo software’s better. But they’ve done a terrible job with extended features — a $49 Roku streams nearly everything better — and haven’t done any feature innovation of note in five years. Why, again, should I pay $20 a month for that?

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