TiVo Positions To Profit From Viewers' Content Confusion

There’s no question that the streaming wars are resulting in an unprecedented bonanza of content choices for consumers. But at present, it may be a case of too much of a good thing.

Various surveys have confirmed that discovery has become increasingly frustrating for viewers as content has proliferated.

Little wonder: There are now more than 160,000 VOD titles, according to a study by Ampere Analysis. Meanwhile, to keep track of TV shows across SVOD and linear TV services, pay-TV subscribers still have to navigate through time-consuming channel guides and move back and forth between platforms.

But from TiVo’s perspective, the problem is a gleaming opportunity, and the company is pushing hard to position itself to maximize it, according to CEO Dave Shull.

“The proliferation of video apps is overwhelming for consumers. So TiVo is committed to bringing all entertainment together in one place, making it easy to find, watch and enjoy your favorite shows,” he said during TiVo’s Q3 earnings call on Thursday.



Shull declared that “only” TiVo “can cut through all the clutter by providing a neutral, fully integrated platform for consumers to find and watch all of their favorite shows, regardless of the content provider.”

If successful, this strategy “has the potential to drive significant product revenue for TiVo,” he said, revealing that TiVo’s ultimate goals include “more than doubling the existing households of over 21 million that we already service.”

That will require expanding the entertainment options on the TiVo platform, he said. “There’s an opportunity to expand the base of consumers using the TiVo experience, and then to generate income from their engagement with real-time/live TV, subscription video on demand services, and the emerging digital entertainment channels and shows.”

Shull focused on the first product step toward the company’s expansion goals: last month’s launch of the ad-supported TiVo+ streaming service, which has been integrated into the TiVo platform.

The service offers live-streaming channels and thousands of movies and TV shows in an app-free environment, “making them easy to find, watch, and enjoy,” Shull summed up. And in providing TiVo customers access to internet-based content, it offers advertisers opportunities to reach “highly engaged television audiences.”

TiVo+’s current content partners include Filmrise, Baeble Music, Outside TV and Fail Army. It will continue to add “premium content from well-known publishers” as the service is rolled out to more customers in the months ahead, and on a regular basis thereafter, Shull said.

"For us to shift so we can actually deploy a bunch of content on the TiVo + brand is a big step," he pointed out, given that TiVo has not been a content company up to now.

At the same time, TiVo has been expanding the IPTV version of its platform that runs on operator-supplied Android boxes.

Seven North American operators will be deploying the solution, including to their broadband-only households, Shull reported. That’s up from five last quarter, and the international expansion continues, he said. (For example, Liberty Latin America is deploying the platform in Puerto Rico, and also plans to do so in other Latin American markets.)

Shull also called out TiVo’s Personalized Content Discovery solution, which uses machine learning technology and TiVo’s natural language voice solution to incorporate real-time/live linear programming as well as subscription video on demand services and digital entertainment channels.

The solution — most recently adopted by Altice USA and Vodafone’s TV service in Portugal — is “at the core” of the company’s mission to make it easier to find and watch content, he said.

“Our content discovery engine relies not only on sophisticated machine learning algorithms, but also on a knowledge graph that unites all of our entertainment metadata with real-time social media trends,” he reported. “TiVo generates monthly recurring revenue from subscribers using our content discovery solutions, so as our solutions are deployed, it will add to our long-term contracted base.”

Shull promised “more innovative products and services in the coming months,” and the company plans to unveil the next phase of its  strategy in January, at CES.

The company has been consolidating its product and engineering teams to enable a unified strategy that will drive its revenue goals for 2020 and beyond, he said. "We’re very focused on the concept of bringing all this entertainment together and making it easier to find and watch and enjoy the content,” he said. “That’s driving a very specific set of product development efforts and product deployment efforts.”

Meanwhile, TiVo is continuing ongoing litigation with Comcast over intellectual property licensing issues, and currently expects a final determination by next October, Shull said.

All of this while the company continues to push to complete another small matter: splitting its intellectual property/licensing and products businesses into separate, publicly traded companies.

In addition to increasing shareholder value, the idea is to streamline the businesses to enable greater innovation and growth.

Management now projects that the split — a complex process involving working with government agencies, among other requirements—will occur by April 2020.

But that scenario could also change, according to Shull. As a publicly traded company, if “the right” partnership or merger offer came along before (or after) the split, “we’ll do that deal,” he said.

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