TiVo: Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

Posted by: Cliff Edwards on November 25, 2009

Digital video recording pioneer TiVo just can’t seem to shake its good news, bad news reputation.

Investors have found a lot to like about TiVo this year, bidding its stock up more than 50% to more than $10 a share. It has struck deals to add its best-in-class software to DirecTV set-top boxes, Comcast and other providers. It’s won important patent-infringement lawsuits against Echostar’s Dish Network, and is pursuing similar relief from AT&T and Verizon.

On Nov. 24, there was more good news. TiVo will develop a converged television and broadband interactive interface to power Virgin Media’s next-generation, high-definition set top boxes, including non-DVR units.And it announced it had struck a deal to provide audience research data to Google for use in its TV ads platform.

But it was tempered by a third-quarter earnings report the same day that revealed the company continues its money-losing ways. True, the net loss of $6.7 million was better than management’s guidance range of loss of $8 million to $10 million. But revenue of $47.1 million was below consensus forecasts of $49.7 million. The company also lost a whopping 314,000 subscribers.

It’s clear that 2010 will be a pivotal year for TiVo. It will need to bolster its armor by finally getting the long-delayed DirecTV HD TiVo onto the market. It will need to extract more licensing deals with set-top box makers around the world.

More important,it will have to invest millions more in engineering resources to upgrade a user interface that hasn’t changed substantially in 10 years. With other companies moving to widgets and other pictorial interfaces that offer simpler navigation and search, the one-time innovator risks getting lost in the shuffle.

Reader Comments

mark11966

November 25, 2009 6:59 PM

As a TiVo subscriber for many years I'm afraid they are poised for more bad news than good. I recently made the difficult decision to abandon TiVo in favor of U-verse. Why? Because TiVo doesn't control the content. They have great hardware and software but the content providers (in my case TWC)have no interest in assisting TiVo subscribers. This creates a horrible experience for the consumer. Unfortunately, until they have control over what flows through the DVR they will find themselves on the short end of the stick.

Ken

November 26, 2009 3:01 AM

TiVo could start to regain ground by simply providing a tru-way device to its' former customers who (thanks to cables' sterling service and low prices: wink-wink) have switched to IPTV and can subsequently cannot use their Series 3 units.

Jim

November 29, 2009 10:26 PM

We first went to DirecTV 5 yrs ago specifically for TiVo despite DISHtv being cheaper. We're excited about the new HD DirecTV TiVo due this year. We're using the latest DirecTV DVR and it still doesnt beat TiVo from 5 yrs ago. I've upgraded our Hughes receiver and dread the day it dies and I need to find someone to fix it.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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