TiVo is planning to make its digital video recorder available in Australia and New Zealand through a partnership with Seven Media Group. The company is also finally due to launch its service as a downloadable software option to some Comcast cable customers in New England.
TiVo recorded a modest quarterly profit of $835,000 on net revenues of $60.4 million. It added 57,000 direct subscribers, up to 1.7 million from 1.5 million a year earlier. However its total number of subscribers was down to 4.3 million, largely as a result of DIRECTV selling its own service.
Despite being synonymous with the digital video recorder in the United States, the popularity of TiVo is disproportionate to its number of users. TiVo has struggled as satellite and cable operators offer similar features with their own products.
Although many claim that TiVo has a better user interface than competitors, their latest Series 3 product is comparatively expensive and a cheaper version is expected. Chief executive Tom Rogers admitted that “given the price of our Series 3 unit, we have not been able to meaningfully participate in the HD wave in retail.”
Plans to provide TiVo to cable operator Comcast have been protracted. The “rocket science” elements of running TiVo in a Motorola box have apparently now been achieved and trials will continue into early summer, with a commercial launch expected in August in parts of New England including the Boston area. TiVO also hopes to roll out with Cox towards the end of the year and is currently in trials with Cablevision Mexico.
TiVo will also be available in Australia in the first half of 2008, following an agreement with Seven Media Group. Based on digital terrestrial television transmissions, the Australian TiVo platform will be available for use by other broadcasters and broadband services.
“It would be like having CBS and NBC promote TiVo adoption in the U.S.,” said the TiVo chief executive. “Australia is one of the most significant English-speaking television markets in the world. We believe that a large broadcaster driving TiVo advertising solutions into the market should be a real catalyst to our advertising platform being adopted in that market and we hope elsewhere in the world.”
Seven will use the interactive advertising capabilities of TiVo to “develop new integrated interactive advertising strategies for their very substantial number of broadcast advertisers”.
“The Australian television market is on the cusp of a significant migration to digital television that will greatly expand the choices available on free-to-air television,” said Tom Rogers in a statement. “We are excited to play a key role in driving this transition by partnering with the top television network in the country to establish Seven’s leadership of this transformation.”
David Leckie, the chief executive of Seven Media Group said: “Free-to-air television is well positioned in Australia to benefit from the TiVo service in offering viewers the chance to easily find and automatically record the programming they want, schedule their viewing time and vastly extend their overall television viewing experience.”
Seven says that it will work in partnership with Yahoo!7, its joint venture with Yahoo, and the broadband telephone company Engin that it partly owns, which “will play a pivotal role in distribution and support of TiVo in Australia.”
Seven Media Group is a joint venture between the Seven Network and private equity company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
TiVo also hopes to extend the development of a DVB-T terrestrial tuner version to other international markets. The company launched an analogue tuner version of its product in Britain, but failed to appreciate the local television market and was obliged to withdraw.
Working in partnership with a local broadcaster seems like a smart move, as they will bear much of the development and marketing costs. TiVo will derive recurring revenues through a share of interactive advertising revenue.
Tom Rogers described Seven as a company that has led the way in defining Australia’s media landscape with its joint venture with Yahoo! and as a result appreciates the possibilities of broadband.
TiVo appears unthreatened by Apple TV in its current form, which he described as “an appendage to the computer”. He said: “I think that’s in stark contrast to what TiVo does, which is to provide a unified experience in terms of all your television, whether it’s coming via cable, broadcast or broadband.”
TiVo recently launched an integrated search, which it calls Universal Swivel Search, that aims to work across broadcast and broadband inputs and combine them in a single seamless interface.
The TiVo chief executive said that many people were approaching broadband delivery from a computer perspective. “We just don’t think that’s the guts of what’s going to make broadband television interesting. It’s going to be interesting because it goes to the television set where people want to watch it and then the question is going to be ease of use, interface, and the integration of the entire video experience in one place.”