File under the surveying the obvious category.
A survey has determined that TIVO is losing its buzz. Ya think?
Maybe the fact that
1) DirecTV has abandoned it,
2) the HDTV boxes we paid a grand a pop for are either dying of a bad hard drive or about to be obsolete since they don’t do MPEG-4, and
3) nobody who dumped cable for satellite TV is willing to run back to the oppressive cable company just in the hopes of using a TIVO until the cable company pulls a DirecTV and dumps TIVO in favor of its own recorder
has something to do with it.
When you’re sinking, if you’re still conscious you start throwing ropes and hope someone grabs the other end. TIVO seems to be throwing them all over.
PVRblog reports that TIVO and Yahoo may be about to announce a deal that will embed “record to TIVO” buttons in the Yahoo TV section and add some sort of Yahoo weather and traffic feature to TIVO.
Also, Real Tech News has an article quoting some guy at the Motley Fool (an investing site that I do not like) about how Google should buy TIVO.
A bidding war between Yahoo and Google- now that might just the what the doctor ordered to save TIVO.
There’s an interesting post on Thomas Hawk’s page about DirecTV’s difficulty in putting together its TIVO replacement boxes.
DirecTV has selected LG Electronics to make the DirecTV branded PVRs and has hired another company to help support MPEG-4. We have no reliable idea when we’ll see the HD PVR replacement. A lot of work just to be rid of TIVO. Plus, DirecTV risks losing some loyal TIVO customers who don’t want to switch to the new box.
All in all, I’m not sure who is really benefitting from this mess. Obviously DirecTV thinks it can put the money it was paying TIVO into its own pocket- maybe so, but there’s just not all that much money to be saved. And everyone other than DirecTV is certainly going to suffer.
Engadget reports that Netflix has abandoned its efforts to reach a deal with TIVO to facilitate movie downloads.
The problem: the Hollywood cartel won’t grant the necessary licenses to allow movies to be distributed via download to a TIVO. As Engadget points out, everyone and their dog knew this would happen when the Netflix/Tivo deal was first discussed.
As I have said before, I have loved my TIVOs- even though my primary soon to be obsolete HD TIVO is sputtering to a premature and not uncommon death as we speak. TIVO’s efforts at grabbing for a rope while the waves crash around it was noble at first. Now it’s just sad.
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.
I belive this statement released by TIVO’s soon to be former CFO might be the best example I’ve ever seen of a one sentence, over the top spin job:
“In light of the company’s recent accelerated achievement of its profitability target, its very strong financial position, and the successful transition in CEO leadership, I feel that this is the right time for me to turn my attention to new and different pursuits.”
David H. Courtney, who became TIVO’s CFO in 1999, is resigning from his management roles at the company in early 2006.
I don’t know anything about this guy. What I do know is that TIVO is fighting for its life right now, and major executive turnover probably isn’t good news.
So now after adding DRM restrictions (or, at a minimum the capability to add them) TIVO has decided that if you cancel your subscription within the first 12 months, you have to pay a $150 early termination fee. The PVRblog tries to take the glass half full approach and hope that this is the end of the rebate approach. Perhaps that will be one good side effect, but mainly this is another attempt by TIVO to recreate itself in a market stacked against it.
TIVO was the great liberator as far as recording and time shifting programming. DirecTV blows it off, so now it’s trying to marry the cable companies, flirt with the Hollywood cartel and dress up like the only thing people hate more than their cable company- their cell phone company.
I don’t buy it. One of the greatest technologies ever is reduced to this. Pity.