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Opportunities beyond TV?
In June, TiVo installed Tom Rogers, former president of NBC Cable, as its president and CEO. Rogers has been on TiVo’s board since 1999 and oversaw NBC’s investment in the company. In a press release, he laid out two priorities for TiVo: to broaden its reach through its distribution channels, and to improve advertising revenues. Shortly after Rogers took over, TiVo launched software that allows subscribers to use their TiVo remote controls to request, while watching an ad, that information from the advertiser be sent to them.

Perhaps sensing that its partnerships may not be enough to ensure profitability, TiVo is beginning to look beyond television. This year the company signed several licensing agreements that will allow Internet content to be stored on its DVRs. In January, it announced the creation of Tahiti, a software platform that will provide tools for developers to create applications for sharing content such as music and videos between PCs and TiVo DVRs.

TiVo has also updated its DVR to enable content to be transferred to portable video players. The company has licensed this TiVoToGo software to chip maker AMD, digital-media software company Sonic Solutions, and Microsoft, to enable video playback on devices using Microsoft’s Portable Media Center, on Pocket PCs, and on smart phones.

Licensing its technology to third parties “is the best business model for TiVo,” believes the Yankee Group’s Kishore. The TiVo brand, which is so well regarded because of the user-friendly TiVo interface, could serve to differentiate consumer electronics devices that control multimedia content. Such arrangements would allow TiVo to avoid the hardware business and focus on creating innovative software.

TiVo is on the cusp of profitability. In the first quarter of 2005 it narrowed its losses to less than $1 million and upped its subscriber base by 10 percent, to 3.3 million. This represents a year-over-year doubling of its subscriber base. These are good signs. Stay tuned.   

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