TiVo Future Focuses On TV Software Packages

by , Sep 20, 2011, 5:33 PM
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For TiVo, the future will be less about DVRs and more about creating advanced TV software packages for cable systems and other pay TV operators that integrate all forms of on-demand content.

That's according to TiVo CEO Tom Rogers, who spoke to investors at the Goldman Sachs "Communacopia" Conference Tuesday in New York.

But the company has other concerns, said Rogers. Among the most important, he said, will be defending the company's 600 or so high-tech patents and pending patents, which enable it to be a key player in the on-demand platform sector.

"We'll have some big litigation expenses" coming up over the next year, he said, as the company prepares for trials next year against both AT&T and Verizon. TiVo is suing both for copyright infringement related to its DVR and on-demand technologies. The AT&T trial is currently set for January, while Verizon has yet to be scheduled.

TiVo has already won a major infringement suit against Dish TV, which was ordered to pay $600 million-plus in restitution. TiVo received the first $300 million of that payment in the second quarter and will get another $33 million in the fourth quarter, Rogers said.

Rogers indicated that TiVo had argued in court that Dish had relied heavily on building its business by marketing its DVR and on-demand capabilities to consumers -- capabilities that were based at least in part on TiVo technologies. Similar arguments will be used in the AT&T and Verizon trials, he said.

TiVo is sitting on a pile of cash -- roughly $600 million -- that will help pay the legal bills. The company spent more than $30 million waging legal battles over the past 12 months, Rogers said.

Another big expense for the company near term is research and development. "User facing software" that meshes properly with existing pay-TV systems is the R&D priority, Rogers said.

While the costs are not insubstantial, the potential is enormous, he added. "There are only a handful of companies that can afford this kind of" R&D development, he said, alluding to big MSO's like Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

But around the globe there are companies with 500 million pay-TV subscribers that will need to upgrade their advanced TV capabilities in the next few years, he said. Most are potential TiVo customers.

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