Time for RogersToGo

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As TiVo’s downward spiral continues apace, it is time to look again at Tom Rogers’ performance.

Rogers came in amid some hopes for reform and progress at the company, but the result has been further deterioration. Rogers was a member of the Board of Directors before taking the CEO position – his blood is not as fresh as TiVo needs. Rogers has no retail or other CE sales experience, which has reflected in TiVo’s moves under his regime. Rogers does poorly in public; he’s a poor speaker, and his voice and tone conjure a negative image of the company. Rogers does not appear to be much involved on the technology side of the business.

Rogers’ one accomplishment was achieved before he took the CEO position – the Comcast CableSoftware deal. It is proceeding at a not surprising 6 months or so behind the original hoped for schedule, but recent comments lead me to think there may be a multi-month delay announced soon. Regardless, even with the addition of Cox to the business line, there is little hope CableSoft will compensate for lost DTV business for a very long time, if ever.

Much was made of analog cable deployments, but none have occured, and are not even talked about anymore. All that is left is the line about TiVo being the best option for analog cable subscribers and significant opportunity – opportunity. KidZone has not been worth the effort to develop it. It is mentioned here because there was the implication that KidZone might garner the analog cable deployments.

None of the other business lines Rogers is expected to be focused on are getting anywhere. Ad business is stalled. TiVoCast’s content is an embarrassment relative to what the rest of the Internet world is offering.

The S3 finally limped out the door. Rogers can be given no credit for that. It was years in development and 18-30 months late to market. The software was not ready at launch, despite it being a relatively simple port of the S2 software, and a major update has yet to materialize more than a month after initial estimates. Several important TiVo features are not available, which is as much TiVo’s fault as any other entity. Note the vapors from last year’s announcement about working with Vista/ViiV.

TiVo has gone increasingly proprietary in its approach. HME is dead for independent developers. TiVo Desktop is largely closed. Ditto TiVoCast. While Vista based digital media functionality will benefit from the usual millions of minds coming up with ideas, all TiVo can do is what its few employees can come up with using very limited resources.

Claims of better unit sales with service bundles have led to either soft sales with higher SAC or slightly better sales with much higher SAC. The program has severely damaged TiVo’s retail business and shifted sales to TiVo’s online store, which can’t seem to get the job done at reasonable cost. TiVo’s direct sales are less efficient than retail sales.

The promise of higher subscription revenues compensating for more costly subscriber acquisition is at best wishful. While inital ARPU may be higher, those higher ARPU subs are going to churn relatively quickly and/or find their way to lower monthly prices. Meanwhile, SAC is moving up again in CY07 to the $300 range vs $260 for FY07.

Rogers has failed to fix TiVo’s problems. The company was better off under the prior CEO, who was terrible. It is time for TiVo to release RogersToGo.

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