Fiscal Q1 profit on TiVo's menu

Revenue tops $60 mil; service expanding to Boston

TiVo Inc. turned in a surprise fiscal first-quarter profit compared with a $10.7 million loss a year ago even as it shed subscribers, the company said Wednesday.

TiVo earned $835,000 in the three months ending April 30, or a penny a share, while analysts expected TiVo to lose 2 cents a share.

Revenue rose from $56.8 million last year to $60.4 million. Service and technology revenue, which strips away hardware sales that are generally subsidized, was up from $55 million to $58.1 million.

TiVo, battling cable companies that push generic DVRs and still grappling with DirecTV's decision to stop marketing TiVo, said it ended the quarter with 4.34 million subscribers, down from 4.42 million last year.

The DVR pioneer also said it will begin deploying its TiVo service to Comcast subscribers in the Boston area for tests, and that real customers will have it available in August.

TiVo also got more competition Wednesday when Apple Inc. said that its new Apple TV set-top box will play YouTube videos on TV sets. TiVo's broadband boxes play content from several Internet sites on TV screens, though so far YouTube is not a partner in that initiative.

Apple TV also lets movies and TV shows from iTunes play on TV screens, and TiVo, through a partnership with Amazon.com's Unbox service, allows for digitally delivered movies to play on TV sets. TiVo said Wednesday that 10,000 movies are available for rent and sale through Unbox and that feedback from the newly launched service is positive.

TiVo CEO Tom Rogers, fielding a question from an analyst during a conference call Wednesday, dismissed concerns that Apple might have beaten TiVo at its own game by striking a deal with YouTube, which is considered a leader in providing the kind of Internet video that surfers might want to see on their TV screens. "I cannot comment on Apple's future plans," he said.

TiVo's bottom line benefited from a reduction in hardware subsidies. The company said it will instead spend money on an aggressive advertising campaign.

Rogers said the lack of subscriber additions reflect the fact that the ad campaign just recently kicked off. No commercials during the quarter plus price increases are "not a recipe for increasing sales," he said.

TiVo shares advanced 4.1% on Wednesday to $6.36, making it the second-biggest gainer on The Hollywood Reporter Showbiz 50 stock index.
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