TiVo Announces New Boxes and Grows Subscribers with 2011 Q4 Results

February 23, 2012
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TiVo continued its comeback today with the announcement of its 2012 Q4 earnings. Beating the street’s estimates, TiVo exceeded revenue projections and had a lower than expected loss. This was driven by a net addition of 234K subscribers for the last three months of 2012. For its subscriber numbers, these were the best numbers out of TiVo in in six years. One of the primary drivers was the Virgin Media UK roll out where the total number of TiVo subscribers doubled to 435K. Detailed numbers about TiVo’s subscriber and financial performance for Q4 2012 can be found here and their press release here.

The most interesting part of the call was when TiVo made significant announcements about their product line-up. In particular, Tom Rogers, the CEO of TiVo stated:

“And we continue to make strides to bring the look and feel of the TiVo user interface to other platforms beyond the DVR. To that end, we plan to launch a product later this year that we previewed at CES, which allows a viewer to seamlessly take recorded content to 2nd screens such as iPads, iPhones or Android devices on either a streaming or side-loaded basis. Its four-stream/fast side-load capability is something that other offerings don’t provide today and we believe is a critical element of a true on-demand whole home experience. Today, TiVo’s industry-leading whole home solution includes a 4-tuner DVR, a 2-tuner DVR, and an HD-STB.  By the end of the summer, we’ll further that lead with the addition of the four-stream transcoder and an IP-STB.”

The ” four-stream transcoder” is a small box that enables a TiVo to stream content to iOS and Android tablets and smart phones. I saw a working prototype of the solution at CES 2012 (video). Several key details of the solution were detailed on the call. The external transcoding box will be able to serve up to four simultaneous streams. It will be an actual box like I saw at CES, not a dongle. The solution will handle both recorded programs as well as live TV. No pricing information was provided. Update: As first noted during the streaming demo, TiVo has confirmed that the transcoding box will allow you to download  or “side-load” shows onto mobile devices. While TiVo has no immediate plans to enable streaming outside the home, this is a great alternative. I actually like it better than streaming given the tiered data plans and caps from mobile providers.

The IP-STB is a retail version of the TiVo Preview. The Preview is an extender box without a hard drive that TiVo introduced last year as part of a whole home solution for cable providers. Our sources tell us that the Preview may only be available to consumers on-line directly from TiVo. The Preview makes TiVo’s Elite 4-tuner box more compelling, functioning as a centralized DVR and removing the need for multiple DVRs in the home. I’ll speculate that the IP-set top box will receive live TV and recorded content from the Premiere DVR as well as video streaming services such as Netflix (demo here) and Amazon Instant directly. The product may not be called the “Preview” when it goes to market. It also will not contain the Preview’s CableCARD and tuner hardware.

It’s exciting that both boxes will be launching by the end of this summer. It could make a big difference for TiVo for the 2012 holiday season.

Other highlights from the call include:

  • Tom Rogers stated that the four key questions for TiVo in 2012 were: Could they grow subscribers? Build new relationships with (cable) operators? Successfully defend its intellectual property? Improve its long term financial prospects? Rogers stated that TiVo answered all four questions in the affirmative this year.
  • Comcast Video On-Demand (VOD) on retail TiVo Premiere boxes is in field trials. The trial is in the San Francisco area and it will then roll out nationally. TiVo indicated that other cable operators have expressed interest in this type of solution.
  • The Charter cable TiVo box is live in the Ft. Worth market and is in field trials soon in five additional markets.
  • The Ono roll out is just about to start en masse in Spain

Tags: Premiere, Preview, streaming, TiVo

10 Responses to TiVo Announces New Boxes and Grows Subscribers with 2011 Q4 Results

  1. TechWzrd on February 23, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Gabe,

    Great article! I can’t wait for the transcoding box and retail Preview!

    A couple of minor corrections.

    Comcast is already in field trials in San Francisco and will be launching in weeks. I’m guessing first week in May with 21.x software.

    The Charter TiVo Premiere is already fully launched in the Ft. Worth area and is in field trials in 5 other markets.

    ~Sam

  2. MegaZone on February 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    One thing to note, the IP STB is actually a new box and not a retail version of the Preview. The Preview includes CableCARD tuner HW (the tuner itself, CableCARD slot & controller, etc.), while the IP STB only has the network input – no tuner at all. While the Preview is really aimed at the MSO market, as an alternative non-DVR cable box, the IP STB is more of a MSO-or-consumer product just for streaming and whole-home DVR use.

    • Gabe Gagliano on February 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      I’ve made it more clear in the story. To me the interesting questions are 1). Will it have a monthly fee? 2). What will it cost? While the ability to stream off a TiVo DVR is a differentiator, TiVo really needs to find a way to keep it competitive with other popular streams such as the Roku and Apple TV. In another words, the $100 price point.

      • TechWzrd on February 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm

        Agree completely about the $100 price point for the retail Preview (IP-STB) although I’m wondering if they can bring the box to retail at a profit within that price window. I don’t expect it to have a subscription fee which would certainly be an advantage over a Preview with a CableCARD slot. It also needs to have WiFi and/or MoCA built in. Since my Elite has 4-tuners I’m okay with the IP-STB using one of my spare tuners while I’m watching on my 3rd TV although @bjdraw may have a problem with it since he liked the way the cable operator Preview scaled from a tuner perspective.

      • carroca on February 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm

        Your article still asserts that the IP-STB is a retail box. Do you have anything to support this? Others, specifically MegaZone, who have talked directly to TiVo representatives say this will not be a retail box, at least at launch this summer: http://www.gizmolovers.com/2012/02/24/tivo-to-launch-ip-only-stb-this-summer/trackback/

        I would love it if it were available at retail since I’ve been holding off on buying 2 TiVo Elites (one for me, one for my parents) until extenders are available. So I would appreciate it if you could confirm your information from your “sources”.

        Thanks.

        • MegaZone on February 25, 2012 at 6:46 am

          Note that I specifically said they have no plans to bring the Preview to retail – but didn’t say that about the IP STB. Right now the IP STB is coming to MSOs, that’s a given. TiVo *does* plan to bring it to retail – but currently only in a general sense. They haven’t decided when and how they will do that and it is still the subject of internal debate. So it should be available to consumers – at some point, in some manner.

  3. Gabe Gagliano on February 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I spoke to TiVo about this and they indicated that consumers would also be able to purchase the box. It may not be available at traditional retail like a Best Buy. Instead, TiVo has indicated that it would be available to purchase from them directly on-line.

  4. carroca on February 24, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Awesome! Thanks for the info. I can’t wait. I hope it is available direct-to-consumers in the same time frame (end of summer).

  5. Jack Martin on March 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve been a big fan of TiVo for a while now. The features are just right for what I want to do, so it works for me. Not for everyone, however.

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