Unlike in computers and the Internet, the TV industry “hasn’t had an upgrade to its look and feel for quite a long time,” TiVo CEO Tom Rogers says. Three guesses what he wants pay TV providers to do to fix that. Although many people still think of the DVR pioneer as a seller of boxes, “we are in the business of distributing the user experience” which increasingly comes from pay TV providers who port TiVo software and interface into other manufacturers’ hardware. Indeed, Rogers says that TiVo loses money on most of the boxes it sells — except for the very high-end ones that can record as many as four shows simultaneously. That’s been popular because “we’re finding that a lot of people watch Sunday night television like they’re going to Costco” — stocking up on shows to view later in the week. TiVo’s had the most success with small and mid-sized cable companies. The big guys want to design their own user interfaces. But TiVo now has deals to offer software and services with nine of the 21 top pay TV providers, and Rogers says more will come. “We were viewed as the guys who had been rejected by the cable industry…We reinvented the notion of what TiVo should be.” Rogers also is optimistic about what seems to be his company’s main business: Suing others for patent infringement. TiVo’s suit against Motorola Mobility goes to court this spring, and Cisco will follow. Time Warner Cable is a defendant in both cases. Following settlements with Dish Network, AT&T and Verizon, “we like our hand.”
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