TiVo scrapes into profit, for now

PVR supplier TiVo moved into positive territory for its latest quarter (to July 31) of $2.9m in net income, compared with a loss of $17.7m for this same period last year. But the company is still very much in the woods.
This is emphasised by the company’s own guidance for the upcoming third quarter which is for a return to net losses, of about $7m-$9m, down to hardware and marketing expenses. Subs are also flat at 1.7m. TiVo’s own gross new subscriptions were up 36,000 (41,000 last year), but third party subs were off, partly because they are no longer deploying DirecTV boxes with TiVo. Total (TiVo and 3rd party) subs stood at 3.6m.

However, CEO Tom Rogers reminded analysts that its deal with Comcast is about to start kicking in, with a Comcast-wide marketing campaign starting this September. Rogers said: “Additionally, the TiVo service on Cox, which is currently in trials, is on track for a launch in Cox's New England market later this year.” TiVo also has a distribution deal in place with the Seven Network in Australia.

TiVo is also locked into a long-running litigation with Echostar, where the Courts have awarded TiVo judgement. “In terms of our litigation with EchoStar and defending our intellectual property, we are now in the enforcement phase of the process. On September 4, 2008, there is a contempt hearing scheduled to determine whether EchoStar is in contempt of the injunction that has already been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, enjoining them from selling and operating infringing units as well as to determine further damages from EchoStar’s continued infringement after September 2006. We remain confident in the outcome and look forward to final resolution in the near-future and to realizing the value of our intellectual property,” said the company.

Victory or not, some commentators suggest that EchoStar’s lawyers will keep this litigation alive for years to come, thus depriving TiVo with its revenues and occupying management time.