TiVo: Ad-Supported VOD Gaining Traction

The subscription streaming video market is getting crowded. Pioneering behemoths like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video dominate, spending tens of billions of dollars on original content to lure and retain subscribers in the face of newcomers Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi, among others.

As a result, ad-supported VOD content is attracting greater market share, according to new data from TiVo, which found the average U.S. household had 6.9 streaming services in the fourth quarter 2019, up from five services during the same period in 2017.

At more than 73%, YouTube remains the most popular source of free streaming content, followed closely by Facebook (62.3%). Free video from network sites has skyrocketed in popularity (up 31.9% from the previous-year period), while Crackle (+2.4%), Tubi (+3.8 %), The Roku Channel (o.2%), Xumo, Vevo (+5.4%) and Twitch (+3.3%) also gained viewers.

Follow us on Instagram

Indeed, 37.5% of respondents from a fourth-quarter online survey of 6,145 participants in the United States and Canada, said they were “very satisfied” with AVOD, up from 35.4% during the previous-year period. That compared to 33.1% who said they were “very satisfied” with SVOD, down from 33.5% last year.

As expected, the report found that most respondents still find new movies and TV shows to watch through SVOD services Netflix (34.7%) and Prime Video (25.2%), followed closely by free YouTube videos (23%) and pay-TV (21.2%).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

For TV series that consumers watch regularly, it’s a different story. TiVo said pay-TV dominates, with 35% of respondents indicating they find new episodes of their regularly watched series through cable or satellite TV.

Notably, respondents cited transactional VOD services such as iTunes, Amazon, Redbox On Demand, Vudu, and Google Play, among others, as go-to platforms in search of new movie content. That was ahead of platforms such as Hulu, Showtime OTT and Starz.

Another 54% of respondents say they find out about new shows or movies from commercials or ads that run within their current pay-TV or AVOD content.

“Consumers are increasingly ready and willing to adopt innovative (yet simple) technology, devices or services that can serve as guides on their quest to find what they want to watch,” read the report. “They need technology that adds value to their lives, whether by helping them efficiently locate the content they’re looking for or by leading them to the video pathways that suit their needs and desires.”

 

TiVo Adds Content Partners to Streaming Video Service

TiVo Jan. 8 formally announced an additional 23 new content partners for its ad-supported TiVo+ video network. The new channels join the current lineup of 26 streaming channels available to TiVo customers.

New content partners include USA Today, Cheddar, Top Stories by Newsy, Sportswire and MMA Junkie. Lifestyle channels include Condé Nast, Tastemade, Latido Music, Mobcrush and Revry.

Follow us on Instagram

The Condé Nast partnership will bring programming from Glamour, Bon Appetit, Traveler, GQ and Wired, while the Tastemade partnership will bring Food, Travel and Home Design programming.

The comedy genre will expand to include “Funny or Die” and “The Chive”. TiVo+ Kids, movies and TV categories will now include “Mr. Bean & Friends,” “Kabillion,” “Law & Crime,” “American Classics,” “OMG! Network” and “Reel Truth.”

TiVo+ is attempting to join a growing ad-supported VOD market that includes The Roku Channel, Amazon’s IMDb TV, Pluto TV, Tubi, Shout! Factory TV and Crackle, among others.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“In a world where people have more entertainment subscriptions than they can count on one hand, TiVo is working to bring everything together in one place for viewers,” CEO Dave Shull said in a statement.

 

TiVo Unveils $50 4K Streaming Video Device With Sling TV

LAS VEGAS — TiVo Jan. 7 at CES announced TiVo Stream 4K, a $50 streaming video device with live TV and featuring cloud DVR from a Sling TV app, in addition to other third-party content services.

TiVo Stream 4K will launch with Dish Network’s Sling TV (separate subscription required) as the preferred source for online TV. The device will also integrate with multiple online video services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, YouTube — eliminating the need to toggle between multiple apps to access TV shows.

TiVo Stream 4K includes a small device that plugs into the HDMI port on the television featuring Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision HDR.

Follow us on Instagram

The device will also feature TiVo+, the ad-sponsored platform streaming television shows and movies. The AVOD service added 23 channels to join the current lineup of 26 channels currently available.

“With TiVo Stream 4K, we have created a dramatically better experience for viewers who are tired of hunting through apps and interfaces to find the amazing content available through online content providers,” CEO Dave Shull said in a statement.

In addition, the Sling TV app will be available on the TiVo Stream 4K box and Sling content listings will be surfaced via universal search. Sling’s 2.6 million subs will be able to search for TV shows on the TiVo Stream 4K interface — or by speaking into their Voice Remote — and a wide variety of shows offered by Sling TV will be presented alongside the free channels offered through TiVo+.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“This strategic relationship will not only help our current subscribers rediscover TiVo, it will make it easier for new Sling subscribers to make the transition to streaming video,” said Warren Schlichting, EVP and group president, Sling TV.

TiVo will also market TiVo Stream 4K in partnership with multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to enable them to leverage TiVo Stream 4K to benefit their broadband-only subscribers. Schurz Communications is the first MVPD to commit to a co-marketing relationship with TiVo.

TiVo Stream 4K will be available to customers beginning in April and will be available via TiVo.com and other retail channels.

TiVo Merging With Xperi in $3 Billion Transaction

DVR pioneer TiVo has shelved plans to separate its legacy set-top hardware business from software licensing and is merging with Xperi, a marketer of audio technology in an all stock deal worth about $3 billion.

The company will operate under the Xperi corporate name while TiVo will continue to operate its brand name. Xperi CEO Jon Kirchner will be chief executive of the combined companies with CFO Robert Andersen assuming the same position. TiVo CEO Dave Shull, who took the position in May, will serve as a strategic advisor.

“This landmark combination brings together two highly complementary companies poised to set the industry standard for user experiences across the digital value chain,” Kirchner said in a statement.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

With more than 10,000 patents and applications between the two companies and minimal licensee overlap, the combined IP business will be one of the largest licensing companies in the world.

Together, the companies expect to benefit from a larger and stronger platform to drive growth, accelerate time-to-market, and improve IP licensing monetization and outcomes. The product business expects to pursue substantial cross-selling opportunities especially in its home and automotive markets.

Follow us on Instagram

The new company had $1.09 billion in TiVo revenue and Xperi billings topped more than $250 million in operating cash flow on a pro forma basis for the twelve months ended Sept. 30, 2019.

The companies expect to achieve at least $50 million of annualized run-rate cost savings by year-end 2021 through the integration of their respective product and IP licensing businesses, the majority of which are expected within the first twelve months after closing. These cost savings are incremental to those that are expected as a result of TiVo’s ongoing cost-transformation plan.

“In a rapidly expanding and fragmenting digital universe, consumers want and need to be able to easily find and enjoy the content that matters to them,” Shull said.  “With Xperi’s annual licensing of more than 100 million connected TV units, and complementary relationships with major content providers, consumer electronics manufacturers, and automotive OEMs, our combined company will transform the home, car, and mobile entertainment experience for the consumer.”

TiVo Adds Amazon Prime Video App

TiVo Dec. 3 launched the Prime Video app on select TiVo devices to its pay-TV operator customers nationwide, making Amazon Originals, movies and TV shows easier to find.

Pay-TV subscribers with an Amazon Prime membership can stream content via the Prime Video app on select TiVo devices. With the TiVo Voice Remote, users can find what they are looking for by simply saying the name of the show, movie, or an actor’s name into the remote.

For example, saying “Find the show with John Krasinski” will display “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” where the viewer can select from a list of episodes. Customers can also use a TiVo feature that gathers every episode of a series available from anywhere, to bookmark episodes for later viewing.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Adding the Prime Video app means fueling fandom for great content that reaches millions of households,” TiVo CEO Dave Shull said in a statement.

The Prime Video app on TiVo includes enhanced experiences, such as select 4K Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range (HDR) content and a behind the scenes look at movies and TV shows with X-Ray, powered by IMDb.

“Providing Prime members with great content and offering them an excellent viewing experience has always been our priority,” said Andrew Bennett, director of worldwide business development for Amazon Prime Video. “By making the Prime Video app available for select TiVo pay-TV operator customers, we can further expand the number of people that can enjoy Prime Video’s popular movies, hit TV shows and exclusive Amazon Original series as part of a seamless viewing experience.”

TiVo Rolls Out Enhanced Set-Top Device; Streaming Service Pending

TiVo Oct. 1 began rolling out a new set-top device that enables users easier connections to video content delivered via antenna or cable.

TiVo Edge gives viewers access to live, recorded, and streaming content, featuring Dolby Atmos audio and Dolby Vision HDR resolution.

The device, which links with the pending TiVo+ streaming service, offers features such as software allowing viewers to skip to the end of a commercial break; simultaneously search live TV, DVR recordings and streaming apps for content; and “track down” every season and episode of favorite shows, automatically recording current and upcoming episodes and adding them to a playlist ready to be watched in order.

“Today people face confusion and overwhelming choice when it comes to home entertainment — U.S. households have an average of 7.2 entertainment subscriptions, and that’s growing all the time,” CEO Dave Shull said in a statement.

TiVo Edge for antenna is a cost-effective alternative to cable TV, providing a less expensive cable box experience, according to the company. The antenna model includes a two TB hard drive (up to 300 HD hours), and four tuners.

TiVo Edge for cable claims a seamless experience between cable and online TV programming, including access to all major streaming services. The cable model also includes a two TB hard drive (up to 300 HD hours) along with six tuners.

The TiVo EDGE for antenna retails for $349.99 and requires a service plan of $6.99 monthly, $69.99 annually or a one-time All-In-Plan for $249.99. TiVo EDGE for cable is available for $399.99 and requires a service plan of $14.99 monthly, $149.99 annually or a one-time All-In-Plan for $549.99.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Everyone at TiVo is passionate about helping viewers make sense of that sea of options by bringing all their entertainment together in one place,” Shull said.

Available exclusively to TiVo customers in the coming weeks, TiVo+ delivers live streaming channels and thousands of movies and TV shows to viewers in an app-free environment.

TiVo+ combines entertainment including news, sports, kids shows, dramas, music TV, reality shows, pop culture, cooking shows, lifestyle, esports gaming and international programming alongside the TV and subscription services people already use and love.

TiVo has partnered with Xumo, Jukin Media and other publishers to make channels like TMZ, Outside TV+, PowerNation, FailArmy, Unsolved Mysteries, Hell’s Kitchen | Kitchen Nightmares, Food52 and Ameba among others available at launch. Pending publishers include Gannett, Loop Media, Revry, Newsy, Tastemade, Latido Music and Mobcrush.

 

TiVo Prepping Ad-Based VOD Service

Digital video recording pioneer TiVo is looking to join the “+” video bandwagon.

The company is quietly assembling an ad-supported video-on-demand service to compete against platforms such as The Roku Channel, Pluto TV, Philo TV, Shout! Factory TV, Tubi, Crackle+ and  IMDb TV, among others.

In a post on the TiVo community blog, Ted Malone, VP of consumer products and services, said the company has secured third-party content agreements for the service.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Our soon to be launched TiVo+ video service will include dozens of channels of free entertainment,” Malone wrote. “We have assembled an amazing set of partners as part of this service and will be evolving it in the coming months with many more channels, on-demand movies and shows and other specialty content coming as well.”

With Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu dominating the subscription VOD market as pioneers in the space, ad-supported VOD has emerged as a free alternative to consumers featuring largely catalog content.

With studios and other content holders eager to mine a new revenue stream, AVOD has gone mainstream beyond early pioneers Shout! Factory and Sony’s Crackle.

TiVo last week announced it would begin rolling ads playing ahead of consumers’ recorded TV content.

Malone, in his post, reiterated that users will be able to skip the ads, which are “served dynamically” when playback starts. Ads do not appear after a user pauses and resumed playback of content.

“As part of our commitment to improve the experience, we are measuring each step in the process and will be continually optimizing the ads to reduce latency and improve performance,” he wrote.

 

TiVo Bringing Ads to DVR Content

TiVo popularized the digital video recorder (DVR), enabling TV viewers to record and playback programming.

Now the company wants users to watch ads before viewing their time-shifted content. TiVo plans to roll out so-called “pre-roll” ads on all recorded content within 90 days.

The move underscores the ongoing value of advertising in an over-the-top landscape that eschews them. For TiVo, which now operates as two separate companies focusing on software IP and hardware, respectively, ad-insertions open up a new revenue opportunity.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“DVR advertising is going to be a permanent part of the service,” a company representative told LightReading.com, which first broke the news.

The company, which began testing the concept with its TiVo Experience 4 device, will roll out the ads to all TiVo DVRs.

“We’re dedicated to innovation that helps our customers stay in control of how, when, and what they watch,” TiVo said.  “Advertising is an important part of every media business and TiVo is investing in new advertising experiences.”

The company also said it designed the new DVR advertising software with the ability to ‘skip’ ads anytime a customer chooses to.

Some media reports said users attempting to bypass ads found the process more complicated than simply pushing a button.

Regardless, TiVo, which saw a 9% drop in second-quarter (ended June 30) platform revenue, in addition to a $9.5 million operating loss, said the ad-insertions would help stabilize operations.

“This is part of our ongoing commitment to bring our users the best media discovery experience possible,” the company said.

 

TiVo Narrows Q2 Fiscal Loss

DVR pioneer TiVo is in the process of transitioning its hardware and intellectual property (i.e. patents) into separate operating businesses.

In the meantime, the current combined company continues to right its fiscal ship — narrowing the second-quarter (ended June 30) net loss nearly 54% to $9.54 million from a net loss of $20.5 million during the previous-year period.

Total revenue increased nearly 2% to $176.1 million from $172.8 million last year. Through the first six months of the fiscal year, TiVo revenue is down about 8% at $334.4 million from $362.6 million.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The bulk of revenue comes from TiVo’s portfolio of IP patents enabling third-party pay-TV operators to offer subscribers on-demand content, video recording, content recommendation and related viewership data.

Indeed, TiVo said it has expanded its third-party advertising functionality to include promotions surrounding VOD movie transactions.

 

The company said promo campaigns deliver strong performance results, including an 81% increase in digital transactions for a Hollywood studio using the software over three weekends to promote a new movie title.

Licensing, services and software revenue increased 3% to $174.4 million, while hardware sales fell about 50% to $1.67 million.

CEO Dave Shull said TiVo remains on track to separate the businesses.

“Based on my experience with strategic transactions and operational transformations, we are making great progress on the separation of TiVo’s Product and IP Licensing businesses,” Shull said in a statement. “We remain on track to complete the separation in the first half of 2020.”

TiVo ‘Wins’ Another Round in Comcast Patent Dispute

TiVo June 4 received a favorable ruling by Administrative Law Judge MaryJoan McNamara of the International Trade Commission (ITC) that select aspects of Comcast’s cloud-based X1 video platform infringe Rovi’s patents.

Rovi, which acquired DVR pioneer TiVo in 2016 for $1.1 billion, operates under the TiVo brand name.

TiVo has a worldwide portfolio of over 5,500 patents. Patents involve advertising, analytics, DVR, guide, search and record, interactive TV and apps, AR/VR, multi-screen, parental controls, VOD/OTT, social media, sports, personalization and voice.

This was the second positive ruling for TiVo. In November 2017, the ITC issued a final ruling that Comcast had infringed two Rovi patents around ‘remote record’ functionality.

Comcast subsequently removed this feature from their products, according to TiVo.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Then on May 23, the ITC launched a third investigation into Comcast for infringing six Rovi patents including: X1 Sports App, multi-room DVR features, and set-top box integrations of apps like Netflix.

That query has also been assigned to McNamara.

“We are thrilled by yet another legal victory,” Arvin Patel, EVP and chief intellectual property officer at Rovi, said in a statement. “We hope that today’s decision will encourage Comcast to pay the necessary licensing fees so their customers can once again access advanced cable features.”

That may be wishful thinking.

McNamara’s ruling is just one required step before the ITC can mandate Comcast make additional changes or pay license fees to TiVo – which the latter would prefer.

The cable behemoth contends TiVo’s technology is outdated and has instituted proprietary technology in the X1 platform.

In a statement, Comcast viewed McNamara’s decision a victory since the judge found “no violation” regarding two of the three other patents involved in the complaint.

“We look forward to the full commission’s review of the one remaining patent later this year, but we are confident, regardless, this ruling will not disrupt our service to our customers,” Comcast said. “We will continue to resist Rovi’s efforts to force Comcast and our customers to make unreasonable payments for aging and obsolete patents.”