TIVO Deathwatch: DirecTV Launches Ad Campaign

The New York Times has an interesting article about the forthcoming DirecTV brand digital video recorder. A few highlights:

1) DirecTV is spending $30M on an ad campaign to market its new digital video recorder. The non-HDTV model (which no one should buy since the future of TV is HDTV) will be available in late October. The HDTV version, which DirecTV hopes will be an HR10-250 (the HDTV TIVO I and many others paid $1K a piece for) killer, will be available in mid-2006.

2) The TIVO/DirecTV contract requires DirecTV to pay TIVO around a buck a month per TIVO subscriber. All of this for a buck a month. I’d gladly pay another buck a month if it would keep TIVO on DirecTV life support.

3) DirecTV will continue to “support TIVO” without marketing it. That’s great for non HR10-250 owners, but the HR10-250s don’t support MPEG4, which DirecTV is moving to, so they’ll be obsolete doorstops soon regardless of DirecTV’s stealth support.

4) The TIVO/DirecTV contract expires in early 2007, so even the stealth support may end then. Given that possiblility, why would anyone who uses DirecTV even think for a second about buying a TIVO. That’s right, they wouldn’t, which is exactly what DirecTV wants.

5) TIVO has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against EchoStar, the owner of Dish Network, a DirecTV competitor, over Dish Network’s digital video recorder. Certainly, this raises the possibility of a suit against DirecTV.

TIVO continues to look for a way to reinvent itself in a market that is sadly moving against it. I wish it would work, but as a DirecTV customer, TIVO is no longer an option for me. It looks like people who want to keep using TIVO are going to have to switch back from satellite to cable. I just don’t see that happening to any significant extent.

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