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TiVo Discusses DirecTV; Intros New Features, Prices

6/10/2004 03:25:00 PM Eastern

New York- TiVo, appearing undeterred by the recent departure of DirecTV’s Eddy Hartenstein from its board and his company’s divestiture of its stock, introduced new products and services at a party at the Four Seasons, here.

TiVo unveiled service enhancements for Series2 subscribers and new pricing for multiple TiVo households. Under the new pricing plan, TiVo Series 2 subscriptions are the standard $12.95 per month for the first box, with each additional subscription now $6.95 a month. That price is for up to five TiVo boxes and other restrictions apply.

TiVo is also offering a 10 percent discount on TiVo DVRs, lowering the price to "as little as $129, with mail-in rebate," the company said.

TiVo also unveiled a 140-hour Series2 DVR with a new design, which for a limited time will sell for $309 after a mail-in rebate, the firm said.

The TiVo Home Media Option is now part of the $12.95 subscription rate. It provides the ability to do the following: schedule recordings from the Internet; move content between two or more TiVo boxes in the home; view digital still pictures on TV; and listen to digital music on the home stereo in the living room.

The features also include the ability for TiVo Series2 owners to access any MP3s on their PCs in a home network and play it directly on their home entertainment center. And with the Series2 box there is a Multi-Room viewing feature, so subscribers can transfer favorite shows from one TiVo Series2 box to another in their household.

The digital picture and digital music aspects of the Home Media Option got a push with agreements TiVo signed with Nikon and Best Buy, respectively.

Beginning June 9 TiVo Series2 subscribers can view images from Nikon’s "Legends Behind the Lens," and the first photojournalist featured will be Joe McNally. TiVo subscribers who buy a Nikon Coolpix digital camera this fall will have an instant connection to TiVo Home Media features through Nikon’s PicturePerfect software.

The agreement with Best Buy allows TiVo Series2 subscribers to sample "New Music Tuesdays" from the retailer. The first in the series of new music releases available to TiVo subscribers will be music from Universal Music Group. TiVo Series 2 subscribers with a broadband connection can use the Home Media Option to select new music releases.

TiVo also met with analysts to discuss its relationship with DirecTV and a reported possible forthcoming broadband programming distribution service that could allow downloading movies to TiVo hard drives.

Susan Cashen, marketing VP of TiVo, echoed the remarks of chairman/CEO Michael Ramsay, who said that the relationship between the two companies remains strong even though DirecTV sold its stock and Hartenstein left the board.

"Our approach has always been to enhance the TiVo experience for our subscribers," Cashen said. "Downloading movies and TV programming via broadband connection would be part of that." As for details on the possible new service, Cashen said it would not involve a hardware upgrade and that as for services and pricing, "time will tell."

Concerning the company’s relationship with DirecTV, Cashen candidly stated that TiVo’s stock "took a big hit" with the news of the sale. But she noted, "When the dust settles, TiVo and DirecTV have a strong relationship. Both companies benefit. [DirecTV] does a significant combo [DVR/satellite decoder] business and uses it as a selling tool for their service."

As for the stock sale, Cashen said it was part of a News Corp. directive to DirecTV to divest itself from non-core assets and that for DirecTV and parent News Corp., the 4 percent investment in TiVo was rather small.

While she did not speculate, Cashen repeated Ramsay’s view that for the foreseeable future the two companies will work together. Proving that point she noted, "We are working with DirecTV on a next-generation platform."

While speculation has been high that TiVo might be replaced as DirecTV’s DVR of choice, Cashen noted that the satellite provider once worked with Microsoft’s Ultimate TV DVR system and the same questions occurred then.

And speaking of next generation products, limited shipments of the DirecTV’s HDTV decoder and TiVo DVR combo box have begun. There are no plans at this time to introduce more TiVo HDTV boxes, the company may have some new product by the time International CES rolls around in January.

For more DirecTV News please see:

DirecTV Sells TiVo Holdings

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