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Sub gains buoy beleaguered TiVo

Company records rise in subs and stock

HOLLYWOOD — TiVo got its first good news in a while as the beleaguered digital video recording company’s stock rose more than 6% Friday on surprisingly good subscriber figures.

At the same time, some Wall Streeters expressed worry about how much the DVR pioneer paid to acquire the new subs, a figure that won’t be revealed until company reports earnings next month.

Company added 698,0000 subs in the quarter ended Jan. 31, on the very high end of its projected range. As has been typical for TiVo of late, though, the majority of its growth came from partner DirecTV.

Satcaster accounted for 447,000 new subs last quarter, or nearly two-thirds of the total addition. That exceeded company’s expected numbers. Meanwhile, TiVo-owned adds came in at 250,000, in the middle of its projections.

Total subs now exceed 3 million.

With DirecTV set to launch its own DVR service, which is expected to be better promoted and cheaper than its TiVo option, many analysts have wondered whether TiVo’s growth is set to slow significantly.

By meeting its target of 200,000-275,000 sub adds on its own, though, TiVo showed that its $50 million marketing campaign is paying off as promised. Analysts will be very curious just how much company paid in subscriber acquisition costs, though, and whether it’s a sustainable figure to maintain growth and move toward profitability.

TiVo doesn’t typically report its subscription figures prior to earnings. But with a rash of negative press recently following CEO Mike Ramsay’s announcement he’ll be leaving soon and prexy Marty Yudkovitz’s unexpected ankling, and with its stock down 38% already this year, it was looking to prove to investors that its business is still on track.

Sub figures seemed to do the trick, as TiVo stock closed at $3.85 Friday, up 6.3%.

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