Wednesday, September 03, 2008

TiVo and DirecTV: Back Together Again

When News Corporation took operational control of DirecTV a few years ago, it began an agonizing split between DirecTV and TiVo, its supplier of DVR technology. Prior to the split, DirecTV was by far TiVo's biggest market. After News Corp. took over, it demanded a much bigger split of subscription revenues, which TiVo wouldn't agree to. News Corp. called on NDS, a corporate subsidiary, to port DVR software that had already been developed for BSkyB and other services to the DirecTV platform, cutting out TiVo. Last March, DirecTV announced that subscribers wanting HD DVR service had to switch to NDS's set-top box, a decision that's been roundly criticized by many DirecTV users.

However, within days of DirecTV's announcement, John Malone's Liberty Media acquired News Corporation's controlling interest in DirecTV. Liberty Media almost immediately began talks with TiVo to reestablish the relationship between the two companies, and today, both companies announced that TiVo will develop a DirecTV-compatible HD DVR for delivery in the second half of 2009.

The loss of DirecTV as a major customer made TiVo a much stronger company: It completed a distribution deal with Comcast that's in the process of rollout, and it shifted a good deal of its revenues from selling boxes and subscriptions to selling viewing and marketing information to advertisers. Winning DirecTV back can only help the company's bottom line.
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