Archive for the ‘TiVo Business’ Category

What´s Happening

April 24, 2008

Worried about the OTA digital TV transition in Feb. 2009? Maybe you shouldn´t be: this blogger seems pretty happy right now.

TiVo´s CMO is gone already, just 9 months after his arrival. I am not sure if he stayed longer than the CFO (the last “permanent” CFO,) but it seems things are going so well ( :p ) at TiVo, Inc. that people just can´t wait to leave. Richardson made a couple minor changes to the subscription plans that I approved of, but this indicates things are going poorly over at TiVo, Inc. While I had reservations about him, and frankly don´t know if it was him or TiVo, I put my money down on the side of Richardson running screaming from the loony bin. Can´t (don´t want to) imagine what this means for the progress of CableSoft or international efforts, let alone the SA business. Let´s just say if there was some meat to be had off the bone, he probably would not have left after just 9 months.  😉

Multichannel News has a statement from TiVo:

In a statement, TiVo said, “Clent’s departure from TiVo was an amicable one, and we have a strong team in place to implement the firm’s marketing initiatives.”

Amicable as in they didn´t kill each other? :p Well, we all know just how STRONG TiVo´s marketing team is, don´t we…

Last month, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said the DVR company will “maintain our more limited spend on marketing while we assess the speed with which consumers recognize the value and importance of broadband distribution of digital video.”

So, there you go. Actually, I suspect Richardson just might have been the adult in the room that pulled the plug on last year´s disasterous marketing campaign and spend. So what happens next? Sugar Mountain is open for business again?

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Confusion in DVR Patent Land

April 24, 2008

With the injunction placed on DISH over their DVRs comes a great deal of confusion over what is really about to happen.

First, certain DISH DVRs found to infringe on certain of TiVo´s patents are the subject of an Injunction which orders that those models no longer be put into service and that the DVR functionality on the ones already in service be disabled no more than 30 days after the injunction takes effect. Initially DISH was found to infringe on both hardware and software claims, but an Appeals Court ruling eliminated the hardware claims for now, leaving only software infringement.

During the appeals process, the injunction had been stayed by the Appeals Court, but that stay is over and the injunction is now in effect. One point of confusion is whether the 30 days ran during the stay. DISH´s actions at this point imply they believe the 30 days did not run, and thus DISH has so far only taken steps to stop the deployment of the subject DVRs, but has not yet disabled the DVR functions in active units. I tend to agree with this because for the 30 days to have run would have undermined the authority of the Appeals Court; that Court stayed the injunction in whole, not in part; the 30 day clock is a part of the injunction itself.

DISH claims they have newer software which does not infringe which has already been loaded onto the boxes. Thus DISH will try to claim the injunction is no longer necessary because the hardware claims are no longer applicable and the software no longer infringes – how can you enjoin the use of something that doesn´t infringe in any way? The fact that the scope of infringement has significantly changed since the Appeallate ruling could well be a factor in arguing for a modification of the injunction. I think it is likely that DISH will have to demonstrate its software does not infringe for the Judge to lift the injunction in whole or in part, however there may be some delays granted by the Court and reasonable opportunities for DISH to do so before the DVR functions are required to be shut down. There may also be an Appeals process over this which could further stay the DVR shutoff.

The next question is can the DVR functionality be disabled without turning the entire box off; ie. can the box be turned into a STB and honor the injunction? I believe it is very likely this can be done. Thus rumors of complete catastrophy for DISH are exaggerated. A lot of chest thumping about massive fines and contempt of court is likely just that at this point.

As it stands, the Court has ordered a status conference for May 30th, giving TiVo until May 16th to lay out its position and DISH May 23rd to repsond. I don´t think anything serious is going to happen to DISH in the interim in terms of fines, but subscribers might lose their DVR functionality. The next 3 weeks will reveal a lot about the parties´strategies and positions as we see motions, etal.

Moron TiVo’s Q3

November 30, 2007

TiVo is giving a presentation on Dec 3, so maybe I’ll save my energy for after that.

This was not a bad QTR in that it showed the THD could be a well accepted product under the right conditions. TiVo probably sold 2.5-3X as many THDs as S3s last year, even with the bad pricing/terms for “service.” TiVo has changed its offer to new subscribers for Q4 back to what it was in 3Q07. This should benefit sales to new customers. However, MSD subs were sited as ticking up for THD and TiVo has reduced the desirability to the MSD price. I am concerned about that drag.

The metrics used to judge TiVo’s business improved – obvious evidence that the THD is an easier product to sell at $299 than what TiVo has had recently.  SAC comparisons improved YOY, GAs declined less on a percentage basis and SAC effiency didn’t look as bad. Make no mistake, everything was still negative, but not as negative.

TiVo now has a product people want to buy. So the marketing remains a problem.

The changes implemented for Q4 are positive signs for the future. TiVo will at the very least see great benefits from the parts they improved and that should help them realize they have to head further down that path.

Lifetime is extremely popular. I wonder that I misjudge its effect even at $399, but $399 is pretty stiff. There is probably a lot of pent up demand for it, but TiVo should lower that price later and make it universally available asap.

On other fronts, the resolution to the SDV problem is coming along in the time frame I thought it would when I said this summer that it was safe to jump into the water again. An OCAP box will be possible if/when it eventually becomes important to make one.

TiVo is making a little bit of progress on ad and measurement businesses, but nothing to get excited about.

TiVo seems to have a couple paying ComTiVo customers now. The whole thing is going to be buried into what was the DTV line, so figuring out CableSoftTiVo, Mexcio, DTV… will be tough. The rollout looks as slow and bumpy as you’d reasonably expect and there’s no sign yet of the effect/quality of marketing.

There is going to be a PC TiVo via Nero software (is it really pronounced Nay-Rho?) Not enough info there to make any judgement about that business yet.

I am encouraged by the indication of lower marketing spend for Q4. That and the change in plans indicate some adults have climbed Sugar Mountain and are exterting some influence.

Basically, Q3 shows moderate improvement at TiVo, particularly with regard to product offering. There is some hope for more improvement in Q4 and beyond.

Notes from call.

TiVo: Its time to say a little UNCLE

Mr. Rogers Presents

TiVo @ Maxim Group Growth Conference

Strategic Positioning – In Front of Your …

Current TiVo Pricing

Comments on TiVo Results Soon

November 28, 2007

I know I haven’t made any comments lately here, though I have written some on TCF …

I’ll comment on the QTR results and other issues in the next couple of days.

 Thanks and appologies to the loyal readers who have clicked in vain.

Wider Beta for ComTiVo?

October 12, 2007

The AP and Reuters put out stories yesterday that the first non-employees of Comcast had begun receiving ComTiVoes. The information may have come from an agency that handles media relations for TiVo. The stories go on to say the rollout will occur over the next several months.

So far there is nothing to indicate this is anything more than a wider Beta test of ComTiVo. So is this a commercial rollout?

With no pricing info and frankly nothing more than the statement to the AP from Whit Clay, it looks more like its non-commercial.

If a commercial rollout had occured a couple of days before as indicated, Tom Rogers’ statements at the Nataxis conference would not have been accurate. That is another factor to consider.

Language is typically slippery. The stories can be read to mean that the commercial rollout will be occuring in the future (over the next several months) perhaps starting in November as has been the expectation recently.

We’ll see.

TiVo: Its time to say a little UNCLE

October 10, 2007

TiVo:

You’ve got some things going for you, but your “service” pricing will continue to cripple the potential.

Its time to say ‘OK we were wrong’ and go back to no commitment and Lifetime sales.

Look, you’re dealing with subsidized S2s. Now the writedowns are there, but leave them out for now if you must.

Make the product of your future a success. TiVo HDs are on average subsidized little enough to offer them with no contract. Sell Lifetime again at $299 or less. You’ve got other revenue streams you are trying to build, which will accelerate if you get Gross Adds going again.

Make your move starting with Q4. Grab much bigger holiday sales. See how you can reverse the slide and start putting up decent and profitable GAs again.

Mr. Rogers Presents

October 9, 2007

Tom Rogers presented today at Natixis Bleichroder, whoever they are.

The format was refreshingly different in that Rogers was asked questions rather than being allowed to get up there and simply drone out his usual tired, sad story.

Unfortunately, basically everything that came out was still just as tired and sad.

I just want to hit what is newish…

CableTiVo

Cox remains 6 months behind Comcast, thus there are Cox delays equivalent in time to Comcast’s. Roger’s says very soon for ComcasTiVO. I figure the first non-Comast employee will get it in November.

Regardless of this two month delay, the big picture in regards to time is the slow roll out which is necessary because there will be glitches along the way as the Comcast systems grow the sub base (unless the sub base grows so slowly that the glitches don’t show up.)  😉

Remember also that this is low revenue/profit per sub. I expect to model around $1.10-$1.40/mo/sub, but that’s not based on very solid info yet.

Rogers responded to questions on price and sub projections by saying Comcast will announce price and he does not have Comcast’s projections. Does he have his own? He skirted that part. If he’s not crowing about potential numbers, I sure won’t.  😉

E* Lit

Nada. 4-6 months typical time to decision.

TiVo HD

Hey, Tom, you’ve got a box that could sell, unlike the S3, what’s up?

Of course Rogers had to say yet again that TiVo and some others were caught by surprise…  Which others? The other losers? The rest of the others have been making hay while the sun’s been shinning.

By now Rogers should be able to give some color on actual TiVo HD sales but he is silent. He mentions only that the box was out early (I say too early based on bugs, but OK that got fixed in 1 month…) retailers love the price, and are focused on it with a new level of support. Just look at the displays he said.

I haven’t been out much lately, but if what I saw at Best Buy Sunday when I went in to replace a busted Netgear router is any indication, apparently a dark, hard to find aisle with no display or demo is the new level of retail support. I need to get out more I guess.

Continuing to avoid any real answer related to actual sales, he babbled about the “service” being important in selling the boxes, which of course it is not; its features and price/terms in a different way than he perceives “service.”

There was some chatter about TiVo as the Internet gateway to accessing all kinds of media. Rogers talked about unifying media access and search…the fact is Rogers has the lingo down, but the strategy is flawed and it is all going very slowly.

“Service” as a business

This is where it continues to get more and more surreal and I get to wondering if Rogers is in touch with reality at all.

Rogers continues to insist that somehow spending more on marketing – particularly the marketing (mediocre) they are doing – could lead to a financially successful SA business! That somehow SAC is going to be reduced, etc!!! NO WAY!

Shelf Offering

Which was raised last month to $100M. TiVo has no thoughts about using it at this time. That sounds like more than the usual no info before actual announcement, so maybe they really won’t go to the well for another year or so.

But the bizarre part is the statement that the cash expended on the SA business is being reduced. Well, how the heck ya gonna do that, Tom? You are ramping up that marketing expense which is all money straight out the window. You already sell hardly any S2s anymore – which create HW SAC. I guess if you sell hi def units and “written down” S2s that does it (heck the S2 inventories and parts have already been written off by $13M+, so no big trick there going forward.) So its probably all in the accounting, but accounting won’t put money in the bank.

Speaking of selling S2s, I want to personally thank Tom for not mentioning the analog cable market as an opportunity for TiVo, the only analog option, yet again.  🙂

DTV

This is nothing more than hope. I predict that only if CableTiVo does well will DTV start to care. Rogers’ comment that DTV will be watching is just that, watching.

E*/Sling

There was some general talk about the E*/Sling deal and how the price was so high compared to TiVo’s valuation. Well, Sling’s price reflects a company with vision and an interesting future. Get it? 😉

Then Rogers goes into marketing type fluff about how Tivoes work with Slings and all.  🙄

+++++++++++++++

There were no Q’s from the audience. Who was in the physical audience? Are they not interested?

TiVo @ Maxim Group Growth Conference

September 20, 2007

http://investor.tivo.com/index.cfm

TiVo (Rogers) presented today at the Maxim Group Growth Conference.

When the first comment out of the CEO’s mouth is BS, you pretty much know its going to be the same old rock bottom story. TiVo is NOT riding the DVR growth curve which Rogers described. TiVo is losing subscribers and is totally off the racetrack.

I continue to believe strongly that Tom Rogers’ lack of credibility is a serious negative for TiVo. The company’s performance has been terrible under this CEO and reality relative to the connotations of his statements is consistently distant.

TiVoHD is being sold online direct at no subsidy. Retail sales have some subsidy. Given that, its time for TiVo to stop doing subscription plans for the TiVoHD and Series3s. TiVo needs to offer $X/$6.95 no commitment subscriptions, where X is less than $12.95. TiVoHD/S3 should sell for $549/$679 w/ Lifetime or free with $X,Y,Z/mo for 1,2,3 year commits. That’s the All Upfront and No Upfront that Rogers promised two years ago.

TiVo thinks retailers are enthusiastic about having the TiVoHD to sell with their HDTVs. Retailers are always happy to have something to sell, and we’ll see just how long that lasts when they realize unit sales are being restricted to pathetic levels by TiVo’s sub plans.

TiVo’s strategy (since first mentioning the lower priced HD unit) has been to closely link sales of the TVs with the TiVoHD. TiVo wants to be one of those select devices the salespeople push. So how much is that going to cost in soft marketing $? Plenty. Rogers obfuscates whether TiVo is actually in that game with any of the retailers. I suspect not. Credibility.

Rogers mentions Costco and Sears as new on board with the TiVoHD. Not true. Costco has had TiVoes for a long time. Credibility.

CableTiVo: No new info. I expect $1.10-$1.40/mo/sub to TiVo with enhanced ads etal. vs. under $1.00 from DTiVo. Included in the lack of new info is that ComcastTiVo has not rolled out. TiVo says software development is done and any delays are due to funky infrastructure issues at Comcast. Is it semantics? (Credibility)  Who cares; it ain’t rolling out and there was no statement that it is coming in X weeks unlike on the earnings call.

Comcast is paying for the bulk of the marketing and will be targeting DTiVoes. Ooooops, do I hear the cannibals? Marketing will be delayed until Comcast has the rollout in a large portion of the NE region. So don’t expect much in 2007 or FY2008 for TiVo.

Of course, this leads to the subject of DTV doing more with TiVo. Rogers teases the interest of DTV in further work with TiVo that apparently was expressed in some DTV press release or comments. Credibility.

Rogers’ comment about DTV reminded me of the line I heard in the Geek Squad 60 Minutes report recently: Three types of customers – The do it yourselfers; the do it for me’s; the I thought I could do it myselfers. 🙂

OK, I think DTV will re-up with TiVo on a new unit or software for their units, but its a long way from getting to the customer, and remember for all the success of that product line, DTiVo never came close to offsetting TiVo’s other financial issues. Don’t foret that in conjunction with CableSoftTiVo either.

Nothing of substance was said about the litigation. I think there could be an Appeals decision at the end of 2007, but maybe early 2008.

Rogers addressed Unbox, USS, Ads and Ad measurement without anything of substance. TiVo ought to be saying something more about the Ad & Ad measurement business along the lines of it producing something noticeable by now. Credibility.

Nothing much on international. He did say from AUS TiVo gets sub fees ($$??) and development costs are paid by the partner.

In running down the financials, Rogers talked about reducing SAC, HW subsidy through more ad spending. In effect he says ads will raise GAs enough to offset the spend and reduce overall SAC. Come on; exactly the opposite has and will happen. Credibility.

TiVo still wants to waste resources finding a way to go after the analog market. 50% of new subs still are analog, so don’t run away, but get real – there is no opportunity there. Sell the S2s in the warehouse or dump ’em on the Mexicans. Of course with $11.2M in writedowns (on top of $2.5M (?) ) TiVo will show some decent looking financials. Credibility.

Rogers mentioned rising ARPU, but it didn’t look to me like it rose much. Credibility. That may become less of a theme, and TiVo should go the other way anyway.

On SA marketing, TiVo still wants to go after analog customers. TiVo has found that there is a perception that TiVo costs $25-30/mo; someone is smoking something. TiVo wants to change that impression. TiVo wants to present the message that it is cheaper than cable; well, for many $6.95 MSDers the TiVoHD is, but that’s it for now. Credibility.

TiVo also wants to improve the understanding of broadband content offerings. Rogers mentioned 3M songs on demand and Unbox. OK, but the value may not be large and the cost of educating may be. I don’t know about the songs, but you pay extra for most Unbox titles and its still all SD, so that value is limited.

So nothing to lift our spirits. TiVo is still going to hurl money out the window uselessly for now. I still owe more analysis on the 2nd QTR and some suggestions on strategy, but its so hard to get down to it.

Is it 65 or 100? (M$)

September 19, 2007

Reuters says 65, DJ says 100. I don’t care enough to look it up (yet).

TiVo filed to raise additional capital yet again. The company is uselessly hurling money out the window so fast that a year after raising a similarly large sum they are at it again.

Nothing meaningful will change for TiVo until they reform their sales/marketing/pricing/terms. I admit I have not gotten to that subject yet, but there is so much else to do, and TiVo is so much less important than it used to be.

As long as they can keep sucking in fresh capital, TiVo can go on hurling that money out the window. The machinations such as Mexico, DVB-T down under, etal. are all about spinning a yarn of hope to suck in the dough.

The only meaningful thing TiVo has going for it is the TiVoHD product which will only make hay with those alluded to reforms.

A Fool About TiVo

September 12, 2007

This article popped up today by Rick Aristotle Munarriz. Normally I am not at that site, but this is worth reading and I don’t mind mentioning it because it is not about TiVo as an investment, but rather making a TiVo worthwhile to pay for.

Unlike his conclusion, maybe at this point TiVo should have a few people on duty for live sporting events sending signals to broadband connected boxes about games going into overtime. Its not that big a software update, would not cost much, and TiVoes check in every few minutes anyway. 

Heck, maybe they could just build a real cool sports bar at their office and give out free beer to their sports fan employees (assuming they have any.)

Or more realistically, align with someone already doing something similar like they aligned with Tribune for guide data.

When you ask your TiVo to record the show, the live event buffer option would have options for further extention based on realtime events, and subject too not cramping any recordings. Afterall, they now have that whole warning screen for live events that’s mostly empty. Let the user know that if the game were to go beyond X then something might be deleted early or not recorded. User can set a max variable overtime limit or give game top priority.

Folks at TiVo Sports Central send out a signal which pads 15 mins each time when a game looks like it could go over the previous end time. Middle of the nineth, game within two runs, send pad signal.

When you talk about Service, that’s Service. That’s value added. Despite TiVo’s delusions, they don’t sell a service – or at least they didn’t until adding some recent elements like TiVoCast which is worth about $.03 a month out of the $13 they charge on average to new subs.

Suppose last XMAS they were charging the upper classes $599 for that sweet 😉 looking S3 and the $13 “service” came with that Sports Concierge diddy.

The other thing I want to mention is DTV. There’s your example of what TiVo’s “service” is worth and its potential subscribership. TiVo is going to have to come to grips with the realities of its service and its pricing, and rationalize that into a larger, more profitable sub base. Its doable, but right now TiVo is virtually clueless about how to get there.

A few quick observations on the TiVo 2Q

September 11, 2007

I am in the middle of going through the results, but I have a few observations so far:  

Comcast is rolling out about a month later, in September, so it will be miniscule for Q3.

Inventory is surprisingly high after $11.2M writedown. Looks like there are plenty of finished S2 boxes and a good number of S3s in the warehouse. It sounds like the writedown still leaves them at a high book value, leaving only modest room for margin improvement or price reductions.

TiVo was surprised by shift to HD. Not that different from prior statements since Q4, but the huge writedown shows they really just kept on going with SD parts/product commitments in the face of the SD decline. TiVo claims “others” were also surprised. I don’t know who they were, but I’m sure there are “others” as totally clueless as TiVo. For a year you couldn’t find an SD TV in a retail store unless you went through a maze into a corner where they keep the dusty, sad looking TVs with the broken chasis. :sarcastic:

Progressive download (streamloading) will only be available on HD platforms. This was a shock, but interpreting literally what Rogers said, that’s it.

The DVB-T international effort has the potential of reaching 100M households, making it a small factor in TiVo’s future. You don’t really believe they are suddenly going to succeed in 30 different foreign countries where they’ve flopped in the U.S., do you?  😉

Cablevision to distribute in Mexico this month. Don’t expect much, but maybe they can dump some S2s on some Mexicans before they get moldy.

My view of the patent litigation is that its going to fall short of the very lofty hopes many have. I think TiVo’s decision to drop part of the case and speed up the whole thing is an effort to preserve as much of the preliminary victory that they have. TiVo will probably get some money eventually, but don’t look into the 9th digit.

Rogers sounds as bad as always. I don’t know how the company lets him get away with his snow job to the outside world and horrendous performance within TiVo. Please, please, please…lose this guy…and this time don’t hire someone worse! TiVo: you are a complete joke and embarrasment to the outside world (esp. financial); get your reputation back with a solid leader.

As you can see, my review of this part of TiVo is not going so well; but could you expect anything else?

Back from the Summer

September 7, 2007

Hi folks, I’ve been away resting and doing that summer thing for about 5 weeks. In that time quite a bit has happened to/at TiVo and over the next week or so I’ll catch up with some comments.

Several positive developments have occured, in addition to the ones just before August. Over the same period, horrible looking financial results have been reported and my confidence in the TiVo/Echostar case has declined. Of course, I’ll be going into some detail on the financials, and comment on the things that are new; and I’ll be writing about subjects beyond TiVo as I have in the past.

While I have not caught up on everything nor done much analysis, I’ll give away the end anyway. 😉  While TiVo looks to be in the best position I have seen in years on several fronts, it remains very far from being able to achieve business success.

It so happens I ordered a TiVo HD today, only to find out tonight that MRV/TTG is coming in November, restricted only by the copy flag and the physical incapability of the S2s re: Hi Def. I ordered because I had gained confidence that MRV/TTC&G and eSata would come in some reasonable time, hard drive upgrades became available, video issues had been resolved by a software update, an SDV solution looks likely, and because I just need more HD in more rooms what with fall sports and programs.

One thing I don’t remember thinking about before is that it looks like I could substitute the Tivo HD for one of my old month to month $6.95 S2s; in other words, no 3 yr commit – this is practical because there is no rebate. However, fact is I am not taking anything out of service, so I am just doing the 3yr $6.95 commit. One way or another one of those 6 TiVoes will be around for 3 yrs, and if not I’ll eat the money. If all goes well with SDV/TTC&G/MRV, a few months from now I may be replacing some S2s with TiVo HDs and doing the month to month substitutions.

No decision on hard drive upgrade yet, but it will be at least 400GB.

A note on cost:  I am using a cable co DVR with a $9.95 DVR fee and $7.95 box fee. The TiVo HD alone will drop the $9.95 part and if the S2 I am also using were dropped the $7.95 box could also go. With $3.50/mo in CableCARD costs, there is no monthly savings now, but future S2/cablebox replacements with TiVo HDs would save about $7.45/mo which goes a long way towards paying back the $299 for the TiVoHDs.

All this really only works for us MSD TiVo users, but that’s lots of folks that can justify the TiVo HD price when its other features/benefits are factored in.

Thanks to those who have been poking around the blog while I was away. I hope even 5+ week old info was useful to you.  🙂

TiVo Bulking Up

July 29, 2007

I thought I had covered this more explicitly than in a comment, but Multichannel news has a full article about TiVo’s concentration on cable.

First, TiVo’s development is all going toward cable:

“All of TiVo’s product development right now is oriented toward cable,” said Jeff Klugman, senior vice president of TiVo’s service-provider and advertising engineering division. “As a company, we are focused on supporting the cable industry.”

Added Klugman: “None of our product development is going to satellite.”

Second, TiVo is bulking up on supporting CableCARD users itself:

TiVo also has established a dedicated CableCard-support group, which will field front-line calls from customers who have questions or problems installing CableCards  …

TiVo has established procedures with big operators about escalating technical-support issues. These are not technically reciprocal support agreements; rather, TiVo has identified the appropriate customer-service contacts at each operator. (Klugman declined to say how many employees are on the TiVo CableCard-support team.)

CableCard has been a politically charged issue, and many operators are still adjusting to the Federal Communications Commission’s fiat that they use the cards in their own set-tops starting July 1.

But Klugman said TiVo wants to fix CableCard-related issues collaboratively with operators. “We’ve been a very good actor,” he said. “We could have gone to government agencies and complained. Instead we’re saying, ‘Let’s work together and get this to work right.’ ”

And, of course there is TiVoSoft – the TiVo UI on the cable box.

TiVo has hired a new SVP and CMO, new positions which probably implies more spending. TiVo is also spending big (for TiVo) on advertising this year, and the ads don’t look good. Some of that advertising is geared toward supporting the brand, and therefore the TiVoSoft initiative. The TiVo HD looks like a subsidized box, and reduced hardware subsidies have proven disasterous. 

MSD is now offered at TiVo.com and Lifetime deals have been appearing. DirecTV Subs will fall rapidly. TiVo couldn’t hold the $19.95/mo contract and can’t get more than the seemingly permanent $299 special for the 3yr pre-pay.

What TiVo has going for it are the Comcast (August) and Cox (late 2007) TiVoSoft rollouts and the TiVo HD.

TiVo is going to have to sell a huge number of boxes to make the advertising spend pay off. Box subsidies are variable, but ad spending is fixed. At $300, its doubtful TiVo’s Gross Adds can offset the SAC cost.

Allocating some ad spending to TiVoSoft creates a meaningful SAC in that low revenue segment.

TiVo still has tremdous challenges to meet before become a successful company.

The few good moves lately need to be followed by many more.

TiVo News – New SVP & Rogers Video

July 26, 2007

TiVo Appoints Karen Bressner as Senior Vice President of Advertising Sales  – Press Release

New York based, reporting directly to Rogers. Looks like Rogers could be consolidating power with these additions (see CMO)

In other news, TV Squad has a link to a Market Watch interview with Tom Rogers.

Rogers says HDTV sales are 90% of TV sales at retailers he talks to. I estimate TiVo’s HD sales are 10% or less in unit terms since the Series 3 launched. TiVo HD should move that disparity in the right direction.

Rogers says retailers tell him that they think people would like TiVo HD as a companion product to their HDTV sets. No indication of any integration of a TiVo into another device or made by any other CE manufacturer.

When asked how profit is not hurt with lower price, Rogers says TiVo HD costs much less to manufacture. Even so, TiVo HD is probably a subsidized box; however the point is to get those very profitable Subs coming in at a respectable pace/SAC again, seeing ads and buying video downloads, all of which could happen with TiVo HD.

Rogers says TiVo’s Sub growth has been “hurt by their inability to offer “a popularly priced unit”

Cox TiVoSoft rolling out later in the year (2007 🙂 )

___________________________________________________

TiVo Hires Ex-Viacom Exec to Head Ad Sales – Ad VP Davina Kent to report to Bressner

TiVo Q2 Estimate

July 24, 2007

I started estimating Q2 Gross Adds at 45-60K and took 55K as my pick. Slight optimism based on Father’s Day S3 deal and Lifetime S2DT deal.

I see no reason to change that, however I am not sure how TiVo reports Lifetime transfers in the GA/Churn numbers. I think TiVo did a decent number of these and if so, GAs and Churns could be slightly higher if they report it that way.

For the quarter, TiVo was stuck with the same problems it has had for some time. No boxes people want to buy, especially at the (all-in) price/terms. Too much uncertainty about the future usability of those units, though personally I downplay that issue a bit.

No Gross Adds are included for TiVo HD since TiVo says they won’t ship until August.

TiVo’s third quarter looks better to me. I think 65-85K gross adds are possible with the new TiVo HD helping offset some of the S2 declines. I am optimistic about the upper region of that range what with the launch at the beginning of the QTR and the initial (retail/box) price being reasonable. Still, all the same issues come up again; (all-in) price/terms, SDV …

A positive I haven’t fully factored in is the new availability of MSD monthly pricing from TiVo.com. Lifetime offers/sales could also help results.

If the new CMO turns out to be any good, he may be able to affect Q3 positively a bit. TiVo seems more active on the marketing front, and what I have seen lately is better than the past (but that doesn’t mean its good or won’t be a waste of money in the end.)

Another thing to consider is the availability of TTG/MRV (S3) which could happen during Q3. I believe there is substantial pent up demand for boxes pending S3 transfers, dependent of course on what is enabled, so I’ll update when whatever it is is official.

In the meantime, TiVo is loaded with all the S3s they are going to need through early 2008:

Jim Denny, vice president of product marketing for TiVo said he was unsure if TiVo was building new Series3 boxes, but believes existing inventory should keep the device available through the start of 2008.

TiVo S3-Lite and MRV/TTG

July 23, 2007

Update:

TiVo HD Platform Wild Spec Thread – Some very interesting things are under the hood… 😉

Well the S3-Lite came out sa expected. However, eSata is schedule for late 2007, and MRV/TTG look like they are nowhere in sight. Zatz thinks they are going to use coax instead??? 😮 Good lord!

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It looks like TiVo will begin taking orders on its Website for the Series 3-Lite (TiVo HD) starting tomorrow (Tuesday) and have the boxes in store by early August; the price is $299.99. (AP)

The box is pretty much just what we have been expecting recently.

Maybe today’s revamp of Buy TiVo was an omen?  😉

Rumor has it that some aspect of MRV/TTG functionality is also around the corner. Then again, it may not be. 😦

Mike Lang over at TCF will have the full specs after midnight (whenever that is 😮 ) for us.

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Articles:

Zatz

TiVo Debuts $299 HD DVR for Cable

TiVo to sell trimmed down premium TV video recorder

Q&A with TiVo’s Jim Denney about TiVo HD on Engadget HD

TiVo gearing up for HD fight – SF Chronicle

“Will this give them a new life they haven’t had? I think the answer is no,” said James McQuivey, principal analyst with Forrester Research. “It’s a wise response to current market conditions, but it’s not going to turn the tide.”

It’s Here – The New TiVo HD DVR – The Ultimate HDTV Companion at a Price Consumers Have Been Asking For – TiVo Press Release

What TiVo and Others Could Learn from iPhone

July 23, 2007

What Your Next Launch Can Take From the IPhone

Lesson Three: Simplify pricing.   …

In Apple’s case, the choices were boiled down to one question: How many minutes do you want?   …

For instance, TiVo missed the opportunity here, said Golvin. “TiVo sells the box and the service separately, and TV customers aren’t always clear on what they are paying for.

You can say that again. Also realize you are not in the cell phone business unless you are in the cell phone business.

Lesson Four: Don’t be afraid to charge for quality. At launch people will break out of ingrained thinking and pay a premium price if they believe the product offers superior experience and beautiful design …

But don’t forget to get realistic when your remaining customers do too; and don’t raise prices as your products’ value diminishes.

iPhone’s launch was phenomenal. Not only was the build up fantastic, but the advertising at launch was stunning – jaw dropping.  I sat in awe watching iPhone commercials that would work beautifully for TiVo while considering throwing my wallet at an AT&T or Apple store – like a 17 year old throwing her panties at the Beatles.

TiVo to share 2% of DVR market in 2010

July 17, 2007

A study by The Carmel Group breaks down DVR penetration and sites cable as now passed satelite in the DVR space.

Based on extrapolations from this study, Carmel estimated that DVRs will be in 46% of television households by 2010, totaling 52.5 million units. Of those 61% will be provided through the cable operators, followed by DBS with 32% of the market, 6% by telephone/video providers and 2% by others like TiVo.

Cable Overtakes DBS in DVR Penetration

TiVo: The Next Generation

July 15, 2007

Pause TV is coming to offer an inexpensive way to get TiVo-like trick play (pause, etc.) features on the everyday TV. Using DRAM or flash, PauseTV offers the necessary storage and funtionality.

Now I don’t know about this particular application, but think of a (not-so) thin client TiVo, something like what I postulated back in March 2006, that is very inexpensive and capable of interfacing with a “primary” (ie. Series2 or Series3) unit.

The strategy I was postulating back then involved “the opportunity to be the best in an enormous ecosystem with standards created by others” by incorporating industry standards  to make the availability of wide ranging content easier.

Pause live TV without a hard drive

Magnum Semiconductor Introduces Single-Chip Solutions for Portable Media Recorders

The Polaris platform

Magnum Semiconductor Agrees To Acquire LSI Consumer Products Business

Mobilygen en-ViE

PauseTV Web Site

More Signs of Lite

July 14, 2007

It looks like TiVo is about to deliver the HD-DVR I suggested 17 months ago they build at the price I suggested 12 months ago they deliver it at.

Since they are charging last year’s price, I figure TiVo will do OK with this, certainly far better than they did with the S3 fiasco. Unfortunately all of TiVo’s other problems, and particularly price/terms for service, will continue to retard sales.

So where do they price the S3? Do they just put it out of its misery?

Signs-of-Lite

Earlier estimates …

5/26/06

3/27/06

… and more commentary …

What’s wrong with the S2DT?

Final S3 Rumors

The end result and check out #5, the mass market DVR springs eternal. Hello S3-Lite!!! 🙂

TDG on Unbox on TiVo

July 12, 2007

TDG is pretty hot on the meaning of the new Unbox on TiVo Direct.

Unfortunately these guys haven’t heard of the Xbox (Live!) or heard that the DT & S3 are selling like cr@p. 😉

However, they are right in theory about the importance of getting video to and ordered from a TV-connected box to expand the DOD business.

TiVo engages interim CFO

July 11, 2007

TiVo 8K 

Updates:

Great title: TiVo rents new CFO after two-years of churn

Hoagland engaged on 7/9. 8K contains more resume history.

Stock compensation will be based on closing price each month. Stock to be sold during the following month.

From AP & DJ: 

TiVo named Cal Hoagland as interim chief financial officer

Hoagland, 50, is a principal of Financial Leadership Group LLC, a CFO services and board advisory consultancy.

TiVo has agreed to compensate Hoagland and Financial Leadership Group at a base rate of $2,500 per day. Hours in excess of 55 per week will be billed at $350 per hour. TiVo will also issue Hoagland $1,000 per day in fully vested shares of the company’s common stock.

Tivo said the rate, on an annual basis, is about 15 percent greater than Sordello’s expected total annual compensation.

The agreement between TiVo and Hoagland has an initial term of 90 days and can be extended by the company in two-week increments.

Multichannel News: 

Hoagland, 50, joined FLG in May 2005. Previously, he was CFO at Interwave Communications, a wireless-telecommunication-networks-infrastructure company, and he has held financial-management roles at other technology firms.

Why didn’t they just use the fellow from last year again? Is he still there?  

Unbox videos ordered direct from the TiVo

July 10, 2007

Amazon Press Release

We knew ordering via Unbox would come soon, and it is here today.

I’ve looked at this from a couple of directions and I see a modest revenue contribution to TiVo from the Unbox orders. Assuming TiVo gets 10% of revenue, I figure in the beginning TiVo is due for revenues in the 10’s of thousands per month.

There are several points of resistance to Unbox as it stands. 1) Video & audio quality: less than DVD and stereo only. 2) Price – interest really kicks in with 99 cent rentals. 3) Viewing can only start after download completes.

As TiVo’s broadband connected units grow – even in spite of an end to growth in total SA units next year – I expect its Unbox revenues to grow. Also, business will pop when HD/anamorphic/DD5.1 content becomes available. I’m sure there will be a little extra business from tire kickers this week too. Eliminating the delay in viewing the rental/purchase would allow for more spontaneous use.

It is going to take several quarters before Unbox revenue makes a noticeable contribution to the company’s revenues.

 References:

AccuStream Research: Streaming Subscription and Download Media Forecast at $2.6 Bil. in 07

Download movies, forecast at $60 million in 2007, is up 133.4% over 2006, and on track to break the $100 million threshold in 2008.

Movie revenue growth has been hampered by limited availability of both front line titles and catalog depth

IPTV Will Take Off, Says Study

Netflix: 5M Online Views in Six Months

Netflix Instant Watching Feature Scores 5 Million Viewings in First 6 Months – Press Release

TiVo Eliminates PC from Movie-Download Equation

Bloomberg

Neither Andrew Pray, a TiVo spokesman, nor Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon, would say how many customers used the service.

Could TiVo be coming back around to Lifetime?

July 6, 2007

CORRECTED 7/8/07 

TiVo is offering a special allowing certain Lifetime subscribers to ditch service on their old box and purchase a box plus a Lifetime subscription for $299.

The propensity to accept this deal is biased to the oldest boxes in service (S1s) because they are both elderly and don’t have the functionality of the Series2s.

When cancelling the Lifetime subscription offering, TiVo claimed it was because it lost money on the Lifetime offer.* The folks most likely to take this new offer have therefore been the biggest losers for TiVo; so why is TiVo reenlisting for another round of punishment (as per TiVo’s view?)

One answer might be that accounting issues will make the ARPU numbers look better today at the expense of the future (so TiVo would think,) and the cash line will get better. Not a good business choice, but maybe could help out some stock options.

The more important thought, I think, is if TiVo is willing to accept these few Lifetime transfers, might they be willing to sell new boxes with Lifetime service? How about Lifetime service to old boxes?

TiVo lost a tremendously powerful sales tool when it dropped Lifetime service. Its service business growth and SAC has suffered accordingly. Perhaps they are beginning to rethink their decision.

TiVo will find great and profitable success reintroducing a Lifetime plan. It will not lose money now anymore than it would have lost money had it continued to offer Lifetime.

* Of course, some of us chickens know better.

What’s happening?

July 5, 2007

7/8

HP’s MediaSmart TVs gaining access to video content via internet…CinemaNow already signed…browse and purchase from the TV. 

7/7

Jackie Collins on TiVo:

And now you live alone in Beverly Hills? People think of me as glamorous, but if I wake up in my house and have nothing to do except write, that is bliss to me. Later I’ll watch TiVo. I’m a TiVo addict.

7/6

GPLv3 causing problems with Microsoft. MSFT will not provide any new GPLv3 code to customers of its alliance with Novell.

7/5

Comcast is putting some heat on the FCC for maybe getting a little capricious with those waivers. While Verizon may be taking some heat off. And AT&T U-verse has a slick story.

Free to air TV in Australia making program listings data available to DVR makers.

Dave Zatz and Megazone have been on to the new Moxi DVR products.

TiVo exercised its option to make its license with TGC non-exclusive.