TiVo dropped two big announcements Thursday at CEDIA, the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association trade show that opened Wednesday in Denver, Colo.
First up was TiVo's one-terabyte high-definition DVR box, the HD XL. Next was a deal to bring the TiVo experience to DirecTV subscribers.
Massive Storage for the Masses
There's never been a 1TB DVR until now. But with terabyte drives at bargain prices, it was inevitable. Add the fact that high-definition content chews up storage at a rate nearly three times that of traditional video, and the capacity doesn't seem excessive.
TiVo claims the HD XL will hold more than 150 hours of high-definition content -- about 70 movies. The DVR is also THX sound certified and includes a premium backlit remote, a High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI), and a cable.
"Our user interface lets users search and program recording from their satellite or cable, off-air, the Internet -- it's an 'all-in' solution -- with great capacity for high-definition programming," said Jim Denney, vice president of product marketing at TiVo. The box retails for $599, and a TiVo service subscription starts at $12.95 a month.
Perhaps bigger news in the long term for TiVo was its joint announcement with DirecTV. Under the terms of their agreement, TiVo will work with DirecTV to deliver set-top boxes for DirecTV customers.
"TiVo's partnership with DirecTV is a win for both of them. TiVo has a good name, good product, and the user interface is better than most DVRs," said Joshua Martin, senior analyst for consumer products at the Yankee Group. "And DirecTV gets a great user interface for an HD DVR."
In fact, the DVR hardware will be produced by DirecTV. TiVo's Denney said, "We're working closely with them on the design, but it's their hardware and the TiVo software."
Analysts have seen the stand-alone DVR market, which TiVo completely dominates, slowly evaporating as Comcast, Dish and DirecTV, among others, develop their own DVR technology. So these moves by TiVo, along with Comcast deals in pilot rollout now, break the company free of its old business model.
"The market for stand-alone set-top boxes is going away, and TiVo knows this. So partnering with a provider isn't a surprise," said Martin.
Unlike set-top boxes provided by cable and satellite system operators, however, TiVo uses its customer's searches for content to finely hone what it records and how to order search results, among other things. Some have called this capability the 'Google of TV.' All that program surfing and searching is captured by the TiVo system.
"Because TiVo keeps such granular data on the use of their system, they have amassed a lot of valuable data. By introducing the system to DirecTV, they'll have an even greater collection capability. That's going to be highly valuable to someone. I look for another company to buy them, soon," Martin said.