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TiVo 'On Track' to Split Its Product & Licensing Businesses

Jeff Baumgartner
8/1/2019
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TiVo said the plan to separate its product and its intellectual property/licensing businesses is "on track" for completion by the second half of 2020.

A streamlining of the product business is underway as part of an effort to improve the unit's standalone EBITDA and to enable the division to further invest in its platform footprint and pursue new ways to make money from its platform.

As part of that streamlining effort, TiVo has taken "immediate action" to reorganize and break down the independent silos of TiVo's product business into a "more cohesive operating structure," David Shull, TiVo's recently named president and CEO, said on Wednesday's call.

That will include further monetization of TiVo's platform around sponsored content discovery, targeted advertising against TiVo's user experience, its VoD assets, live TV programming, and the sale of TiVo's TV audience data, he said.

"We will execute quickly," Shull stressed, noting that TiVo intends to launch a batch of new products in the second half of the year.

Following a lengthy review of its business, TiVo formally announced in early May it would cut the company in two. If all goes to plan, TiVo will split those businesses into two separate, publicly traded companies with different, full management teams and boards. TiVo, which merged with Rovi Corp. in the fall of 2016, has also hinted that additional "strategic transactions" could follow after the company is divided up, but has not elaborated on what that might entail.

The product side of TiVo will include its service and software platform for retail and devices and services offered in partnership with various cable operators and telcos. The IP side of the house handles patents and licensing deals, and represents the part of the company that's been waging a long battle with Comcast in civil courts and at the International Trade Commission.

TiVo offered some updates for both parts of its business as it announced its second quarter results Wednesday.

On the product end, TiVo said 55 of 56 existing North American TiVo cable operator customers have upgraded to its high-end TiVo User Experience 4 platform, and that five operators in the region are now set to deploy that offering and migrate to IPTV using Android TV-powered boxes that run TiVo's software.

Shull said the Android TV effort aims to reduce the cost of deployment for operator partners and enable them to also expand device rollouts beyond traditional video subs and reach out to broadband-only customers as well. Notably, Comcast is already attempting something similar with Xfinity Flex, a streaming video and smart home product for broadband-only subs that is powered by the MSO's X1 platform.

Courtesy of ZatzNotFunny gadget blogger Dave Zatz, here's a look at how RCN Corp.'s TiVo experience operates on the Android TV platform:

'Committed' to the Comcast litigation
With respect to licensing, TiVo said it inked 15 new and renewal deals in Q2. Among them, Shaw Communications, a Canadian operator that syndicates Comcast's X1 platform for its new BlueSky TV offering, recently struck a new multi-year extension with TiVo.

Though TiVo prefers to get a fair deal done with Comcast, Shull stressed that TiVo is "committed to the litigation" in the meantime.

"While Comcast may be able to design around any single patent, if we are able to demonstrate that they have violated even a small parentage of these hundreds of patents, the Comcast service will likely continue to lose features that are important to their customers," he said. The most significant X1 capability that Comcast has disabled as a result of the TiVo patent battle is a remote DVR recording function.

TiVo posted Q2 revenues of $176.2 million, up 11% versus the year-ago quarter. Broken down further, that total included product revenues of $85.2 million and $90.96 million in IP licensing revenue, including $41.99 million from US pay-TV providers, $7.73 million from CE manufacturers, and $41.23 million from new media, international pay-TV providers and "other" sources.

The company also upped its fiscal year 2019 outlook, now expecting revenues of $650 million to $665 million, versus earlier guidance of $644 million to $660 million.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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