A couple of weeks ago I posted about yet more delays for the new DirecTiVo. Today was DirecTV’s 2Q2011 financial call, so I was hoping there might be something relating to TiVo.
No such luck. There was no mention of TiVo by name. So, time to try to read the tea leaves.
Michael White – Chairman, President and CEO: I think the Nomad product which is the ability to port your content from your DVR onto you iPad, I expect you’ll see that in some geographies before the end of the year. We’re probably going to do it in a fewer geographies to make sure that its working flawlessly, before we’d roll it out fully, so roll out might be in 2012. But you’ll see that before the end of the year. The high-definition user interface comes in the fourth quarter. We’ll also I would expect to be streaming Pay Per View and premium channels on My DIRECTV.com probably in the fourth quarter, I think we’re expecting or going to launch the whole media center which will have a kind of high-end DVR or new subs in the fourth quarter as well. So, we’ve got a lot of things that I feel pretty good about that will roll into the fourth quarter, albeit and I think you’ll see more of the benefits of that probably in 2012 than in 2011 in terms of the acceleration of momentum.
We certainly know from history that advanced products in general, we do see a lower churn rate on our advanced products when we go on basic or standard (desk) customers. So, if history is any guide then, I’m pretty confident and I also think that the quality of the experience and I think that’s where we’ve got probably still some more work to do to fill in some more VOD content and really with the HD user interface really make that experience pop for the consumer. I think, we’re bringing Pandora into it. We’re doing a bunch of things to make it just an absolutely knock your socks off experience for customer. As I said, we’re already getting more than we had planned in ARPU lift out of those customers. So, I feel great about the connected box strategy, I think we’re just working through some of the operational things.
The Nomad product we’ve heard of before, though details seem to be sparse. It is apparently a unit that works with your DirecTV receiver/DVR to transcode content into a format usable on portable devices.
Now, the high definition UI and media center with high-end DVR, could that be an advanced TiVo box? We know Technicolor is providing the HW for the new DirecTiVo. And we know that TiVo and Technicolor last year entered into an agreement to produce an advanced DVR. Could the DirecTiVo project been taken in a new direction, accounting for some of the long delay? What about the mention of Pandora? TiVo supports Pandora, but they’re not the only TV/DVR platform that does – FiOS does as well. So it isn’t inconceivable that DirecTV could be adding Pandora to their own STBs, but it could also be TiVo.
OK, basically no one knows and there is nothing clear from this call. Could this be the long awaited DirecTiVo, bigger and badder than anything we expected? Yes, it could. Could this be a completely different box, continuing the evolution of their non-TiVo DVRs? Yes, it could. Anyone who knows for sure is probably under NDA and at this point I don’t have much faith in the leaks we’ve seen. Most of them are so old that too much could’ve changed, if they were accurate in the first place.
So it looks like something is coming out later this year, but we won’t know what it is until it releases – or there is a substantial leak in the meantime. Frankly, at this point, I don’t think I’d believe anything about the DirecTiVo until it was on shelves and in consumers’ hands. If the new high-end, HD UI DVR turns out not to be a DirecTiVo, I would take that as a bad sign in respect to the likelihood of the DirecTiVo ever being released.