When TiVo and DirecTV rekindled their relationship in 2008, we were pretty psyched. Because, back in the day, the companies represented a dream team of cutting edge television services — the best DVR mated with the best TV (Sunday Ticket). Unfortunately, at some point their relationship soured and existing (non-MPEG4) DirecTV TiVo units were merely allowed to remain active (although stagnant) via a reciprocal do-not-sue patent arrangement worked out in 2006 (with DirecTV picking up ReplayTV’s patent portfolio as leverage in 2007).
Yet, after a few years of delay, we’re finally here… And the new DirecTV TiVo DVR, originally scheduled for 2009, goes on sale tomorrow. It’s everything we expected, but nothing we hoped for. The unit features TiVo’s original standard definition user interface, now branded as their “Classic” UI, running on outdated DirecTV hardware. So it’s neither the best TiVo experience, nor is it the best DirecTV DVR.
Our readership generally expects cutting edge products, but we recognize there’s a broader market out there and suspect a subset of current DirecTV subscribers (and defectors) might find comfort in that classic TiVo experience (including the iconic peanut remote). While it may be functionally limited, the product could be highly usable and sufficient for many. In fact, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers is banking on it:
DIRECTV has obligations to nationally market us, and those obligations are substantial. They obviously know who the DIRECTV TiVo current customers are, and they know people who have previously had TiVo and have the product for a long time and presumably were satisfied customers. I would expect some of their initial marketing will be focused on those very groups
So, although many of us are legitimately underwhelmed with the offering, there could still be a sizable market and successful deployment. But I’m expecting something more akin to the Comcast TiVo flameout.
Beginning Thursday, 12/8, the TiVo HD DVR from DIRECTV will be made available to customers in DirecTV’s leading markets, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, New York, Denver, San Francisco, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, DC. The TiVo HD DVR from DIRECTV will be made widely available to all DIRECTV customers nationwide beginning in early 2012. The cost of the TiVo HD DVR from DirecTV is $199 and the monthly service total is $12 per month, including a $7/month charge for the DirecTV DVR service as well as $5/month for the TiVo service.