In the 2009 Edison/Arbitron Internet & Multimedia survey, while one-third of respondents age 12+ reported using any type of Digital Video Recorder, only 9% of those DVR users said they use the TiVo® brand.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last decade or just generally paying no attention whatsoever to technology, you know about the wondrous and life-changing capabilities of the DVR (and of course by "life-changing" I mean more efficient use of one's time spent with TV.) The first time a DVR newbie sees “live TV” being paused often elicits a moment of wide-eyed euphoria — not to mention a realization that their TV viewing habits are about to change dramatically.
But not all DVRs are created equally. To my eye, and many other DVR users I’ve talked to over the years, TiVo has an elegant and easy-to-use interface that most people would choose time and again over the offerings of local cable and satellite TV companies. Penetration is higher with these “generic” boxes than TiVo due primarily to their differing sales models. While cable and satellite rent out a box on a monthly basis (providing both the hardware and software for a single monthly fee), the TiVo model involves the selling of a box upfront, with the addition of a monthly service fee. Today, cable and satellite boxes lead the penetration battle despite the fact that they have generally fallen short in terms of the user experience and usability with their clunky menus and navigation.
Despite many deals with content providers such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video on Demand, TiVo has mostly struggled to break out and become successful financially. Today, however, TiVo is looking to further build on a recent favorable court ruling backing its recording patent, and muscle that aforementioned elegant software onto more and more of those non-TiVo DVRs.
Undoubtedly DVR penetration will continue to grow, but will TiVo’s turf battles lead to a larger share of that pie?