Less still means more for TiVo

Cuts Q3 losses despite mounting DirecTV defections

TiVo reined in its quarterly losses and beat Wall Street's expectations even while the company lost subscribers as DirecTV defections outpaced stand-alone additions.

The DVR pioneer also announced details of its long-gestating partnership with Comcast. The nation's top cabler said more than two years ago that it would offer TiVo, and TiVo said Wednesday the price would be $2.95 per month above what Comcast customers are paying for a generic DVR.

Comcast has rolled out the TiVo service to some of its employees and a handful of consumers in the New England area, though TiVo CEO Tom Rogers was unable to say when, or if, the service would be marketed to all of Comcast's more than 24 million video customers nationwide.

TiVo lost $8.2 million in its fiscal third quarter, down from a loss of $11.1 million last year. Revenue rose 14.4% to $75.5 million. Service revenue, which strips out hardware and other sales, rose 8% to $52.9 million.

TiVo ended the quarter with 4.1 million subscribers, down from the 4.4 million it had last year. Stand-alone subscriber gross additions for the quarter were 69,000, though stand-alone defections were 65,000, and an additional 134,000 DirecTV-TiVo customers quit TiVo's service, causing TiVo to lose a total of 130,000 subscribers for the quarter.

TiVo has been steadily losing DirecTV subs for several quarters because the satellite TV company no longer markets TiVo, preferring that its customers use DVRs supplied by NDS, which, like DirecTV, is controlled by News Corp.

Shares of TiVo, which have been heading steadily south for several weeks, rose 1.3% to $5.98 and gained more than 6% in after-hours trading once quarterly results were released.

Speaking to analysts, Rogers offered no details concerning TiVo's ongoing legal battle with EchoStar Communications, which was found to have infringed some of TiVo's patents. The case has been held up on appeal for months.

Rogers said if the decision goes TiVo's way it has "the potential to change our business in many ways."

TiVo's earnings report was preceded this week by a host of announcements, the most significant being a multiyear partnership with NBC Universal, the first major network to use TiVo's interactive advertising platform and its audience-measurement data.

"In 18 months, we've gone from pariah to network partner," Rogers said Wednesday in reference to the NBC Uni deal.

TiVo also struck a deal to supply media-buying agency Carat, a unit of Aegis Group, with its audience-research data, and partnered with Germany-based digital-media company Nero AG to bring TiVo features to personal computers.

Rogers also stressed TiVo's international initiatives. It has rolled its service out in Mexico and it is coming soon to Canada and Australia.