It's a DVR, but it's probably not TiVo

TiVo logo

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Dire Straits got it right: installing microwave ovens. Custom kitchen deliverie . . . ies. The economy needs people to buy things like appliances and cars and machines. They're known as durable goods. And last month, orders for those big items shot up 1.3 percent, a much bigger increase than expected. A strong number points to some consumer confidence, and it's a sign companies are spending money as well.

. . . Wait, let's Tivo that last part. And it's a sign companies are spending money as well. See, Tivo has become a verb, just like Google. But while Google is still dominating its business, TiVo is getting crushed. The company turns in its latest profit report today. More from Dan Grech.


Dan Grech: Twenty-six million households in the U.S. have digital video recorders. Less than 7 percent of those subscribe to TiVo.

Joseph Jaffe is author of "Life After The Thirty Second Spot." He says cable and satellite companies have undercut TiVo on price. While TiVo charges $12.95 a month, the TV providers often offer their DVRs for free.

Joseph Jaffe: They're able, because of their size and scale, to charge next to nothing -- almost to commoditize DVR.

TiVo has tried to enhance its appeal by partnering with Amazon.com, YouTube and Walt Disney. This morning, it announced subscribers can now automatically record shows recommended by the magazine Entertainment Weekly.

Jaffe: All of these service functions or features or enhancements might come together to create that one plus one equals three effect.

So far, the math for TiVo hasn't worked out. In 11 years, the company has only posted two profitable quarters.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...