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