Tivo In Death Spiral

Nov 27th, 2008 | By | Category: Digital Video Recorder, Internet TV, Video

TV By The Numbers’ Bill Gorman has posted some revealing stats on TiVo subscribers that suggest that the technology is headed for the dead pool. 

The above graph charts the change in TiVo subscribers, by month. Starting with February ’06, TiVo subscriber growth stalls and by February ’07, TiVo started bleeding subscribers. 

Gorman notes:

In the quarter ending October 31, 2008, TiVo’s total subscribers fell to 3.46 million, approximately the same level they had in Spring, 2005. As we’ve covered before, TiVo may have a valuable intellectual property portfolio, but its hardware selling business is over. For the most recent quarter, it sold fewer than 500 TiVo DVRs a day.

What’s killing off TiVo? Has the TiVo audience moved on to Internet media?

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No Responses to “Tivo In Death Spiral”

  1. Dave says:

    YouTube might have played a role, but I suspect cable and satellite company DVRs had much more to do with this than online video. TiVo has practically been priced out of the market by those systems. Focusing on hardware — especially hardware that doesn’t play well with satellite systems — might prove to be TiVo’s downfall in the long run.

  2. James Lewin says:

    Dave – good point. My perspective is probably skewed by the fact that I’ve pretty much given up on network tv.

  3. Steve Mullen says:

    Dave nailed it with the “doesn’t play well”. Tivo and other standalone DVRs don’t work all that well with satellite *or* digital cable boxes. It’s not worth the hassle or getting it to work when your content provider can offer you a DVR at the same price or less. I have a cable DVR that replaced my (get this) RelayTV. The ReplayTV was a far superior DVR and still worked great, but it didn’t always change the cable box channel. I gave up on dealing with it. Tivo and others like them were a great solution when most everyone used cable that plugged directly into the back of the TV, but with digital cable boxes and satellite TV boxes much more common, standalone DVRs are going the way of the wind.

  4. It would also be interesting to see the sales for DVD recorders. Many models can be had for less than $100 now. But it has become almost standard when getting satellite or cable to get a box that will at least control a VCR, if not have a recorder built in. And there’s no extra fee.

    I don’t see that many turning to the Internet just yet. Many people still like watching their TV shows on their TVs, it’s just how they record them that’s different.

  5. Simon says:

    Dave partially touched on the core of its failings — but the specific reason is that TiVo formerly had a deal in place with DirecTV to sell satellite receivers with built-in TiVo, which apparently accounted for two-thirds of its subscription base. That deal fell apart at the end of 2005 when DirecTV began bundling DVR technology from the NDS Group, a company in which it had a stake — that’s where you see the first big drop-off in TiVo subscribers.

    Since then, sales of stand-alone units haven’t fared too well when up against the new digital receivers from cable and satellite providers. The bleeding likely comes from those whose precious satellite contracts have expired and are switching to the newer receivers.

    Comcast still offers a Comcast-branded TiVo receiver, but who knows how long that will last.

  6. Dan Robison says:

    I have a cable DVR that replaced my (get this) RelayTV. The ReplayTV was a far superior DVR and still worked great, but it didn’t always change the cable box channel. I gave up on dealing with it.

  7. nottiedtothetv says:

    Just don’t, don’t, don’t get need for Tivo. Outside player trying hard to partner with companies that have viable demand. 2008 income numbers TERRIBLE except for a legal settlement cash infusion. A legal settlement that leaves me at a loss. How do you award a settlement on buffering data over a tramission infrastruture that simpy piggybacks on transmission standards for the public domain? Unless EchoStar flat out copied the software method dot-by-dot, Tivo go home. Buffering data is no brain child. For those that feel the need to watch one program and record two others, wow I wish I had that time to waste. Boob tube on steroids. Cheers to EchoStar for their appeal. Go win. Can’t figure out for the life of me how they lost in the first place. I want a gig where I can patent an obvious use of a technology but prevent others from using it without padding my wallet.

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