TiVo sales, revenues up as qtr. loss soars

Corporate partnerships starting to show results, Ramsay sez

TiVo Inc. said Tuesday that holiday shopping accounted for the 26,000 digital video recorder set-top boxes it sold in the fourth quarter, helping it report stronger period revenues of $182,000, compared with $33,000 for the third quarter. Startup costs, however, forced it to post a $35 million loss vs. $20 million for the previous quarter.

Analysts have been awaiting the figures in an attempt to gauge how new interactive TV services yet to hit the broader market (Replay Networks and Microsoft’s WebTV are competitors) may perform on the consumer level.

Previous figures had put TiVo well below the 10,000 mark but still well ahead of ReplayTV’s similar service. While the numbers are positive for the upstart, analysts question whether TiVo will be able to maintain sales beyond the Christmas season.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company also posted revenues of $223,000 and a net loss of $67 million for the fiscal year, ended Dec. 31, 1999. It did not earn revs in 1998, but reported a loss of $10 million.

$25 million in promotion

TiVo said it collected $182,000 from its monthly $10 subscription fees. It also has spent $25 million in the past year to promote the service through latenight TV spots, print ads and other marketing avenues.

“It’s been a great year for us,” said Mike Ramsay, TiVo’s prexy and CEO. “In just two and a half months, we aggressively expanded our retail and online distribution channel, increasing the number of retail outlets to over 3,000 nationwide, up from 520 in the previous quarter.”

Ramsay added that TiVo plans to continue pursuing relationships, such as its recent pacts with Blockbuster and Liberate Technologies, and maintaining existing relationships with America Online and DirecTV to deliver additional services to its system, including soon-to-launch AOL TV.

TiVo’s boxes already enable users to record up to 30 hours of TV programming without a traditional videotape, while also pausing, rewinding and fast-forwarding live programming.

Partnering payoff

“The corporate partnerships we formed in our early days are starting to show results. Philips, Sony and DirecTV represent the key alliances that are enabling TiVo to gain strength in this new market,” Ramsay said.

TiVo on Monday inked a deal with NBC and Showtime to begin broadcasting previews of upcoming episodes or movies 14 days in advance through its network showcases.

It is already developing a video-on-demand service with Blockbuster and the adaptation of AOL TV into its system.

It also plans to bow what it calls TiVo Cineplex in the next six months, providing movie listings for local theaters and enabling viewers to purchase tickets through their set-top boxes. Other e-commerce offerings will soon follow.

Sony plans to bow its own TiVo set-top box in retailers for a lower-priced $399 in the spring. Currently, Philips builds the company’s boxes. ReplayTV will offer its Panasonic-built player in stores in April.

The earnings report helped boost shares of TiVo up 3.6% to close at $45.31 on Tuesday, a gain of $1.56.

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