TiVo racks up a series of wins, proving premium media devices are still relevant

Check out our review of the TiVo Roamio DVR.

There’s good news for TiVo, as the company yesterday reported a fourth quarter profit of $710,000 for 2013. While that may not sound like reason to celebrate for a multi-million dollar corporation, compared to the company’s $15.8 million loss over the same period last year,  it’s kind of a big deal. For a company that’s struggled in recent years to find a foothold in an quickly-shifting tech space, this latest news is really just a small portion of an encouraging trend of success for the brand.

TiVo has always had an appealing product, offering one of the first DVR systems in the industry, and presenting it with a gorgeous, intuitive interface. But competition on all sides has seemed to engulf the company as of late, putting it’s subscription-based, premium set-top box paradigm in a compromised position.

First came DVRs directly from Multi-System Operators (MSO) like Comcast, who quickly began to cut into TiVo’s customer base, and then simply block TiVo out of the equation. Then, there were streaming video sites like Netflix and Hulu Plus, coupled with low-cost streaming devices like the Roku and the Apple TV. Add in a dash of other innovations from other third-party vendors like the Slingbox, which allows users to send their TV content to mobile devices and computers almost anywhere, and you’ve got a lot of competition to contend with.

In the midst of all these new players, TiVo continued to innovate on its own. Last fall, the company unveiled its seminal creation, the Roamio DVR box, which basically offers a combination of every media service you could want, all in one stylish device. With the Roamio, you can record and pause live TV from up to six tuners, access streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, sling content to mobile devices and computers, and even download it for offline viewing.

With all of its talents, Roamio has been somewhat handcuffed thanks to Comcast’s refusal to rent TiVo DVRs, or enableComcast Video On Demand (VOD) services to connect to the boxes in many areas. However, as MultiChannel News reports, that dilemma has been shifting in TiVo’s favor as of late. Roamio is now able to offer Comcast VOD in a growing number of markets, with full implementation in all Comcast markets slated for June of 2014. And now that Comcast is positioned to become the new owner of a little mom-and-pop outfit called Time Warner Cable, the future growth of TiVo’s customer base looks bright indeed.

Other dominoes seem to be falling in TiVo’s favor as well. The aforementioned 4th quarter profit is reportedly due largely to a record 313,000 new TiVo subscribers through partnerships with cable properties overseas. And then there’s TiVo’s purchase of Digitalsmiths, a company with deeply ingrained search optimization software that is already deployed in 7 out of the top 10 pay-TV services, and also runs search optimization for a few little-known devices like Roku, Xbox 360, Playstation, and both iOS and Android devices. Digitalsmiths allows TiVo to be integrated into systems with or without its signature hardware.

Since TiVo started incorporating a suite of everyone’s favorite media services – from Netflix to mobile DVR content – under one roof, the company’s subscriber base has surged, adding one million subscribers from MSOs last year. And with the nest continuing to widen beneath the Comcast golden goose, it seems like good times are on the horizon.

With a massive amount of competition in the so-called cord-cutter segment, premium cable boxes like TiVo’s Roamio seem to some like gratuitous inclusions in the home theater genre. But TiVo’s continued conveyance of high innovation and superior implementation has kept the company in the fight. For now, at least, it looks like things are only getting better.

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