TiVo ( TIVO) matched fourth-quarter estimates and rolled out a new pricing plan. The Alviso, Calif., digital-recorder outfit lost $19.5 million, or 23 cents a share, for the quarter ended Jan. 31, compared with a year-ago loss of $33.7 million, or 42 cents a share. Revenue rose to $47 million from $34.2 million a year earlier, with service revenue hitting $46.3 million in the latest period. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a 23-cent loss on revenue of $46.4 million. "This was a steady quarter for TiVo as our subscription base continued to grow, even in this more competitive environment," said CEO Tom Rogers. "During the last six months, we have implemented a number of marketing programs designed to support our long-term goal of driving increased scale in our subscription base. We are starting to see the results of these programs as the fourth quarter was our best online quarter ever through TiVo.com. In addition, virtually all new subscriptions during the quarter signed on for a minimum 1-year period, helping to further reduce our already comparatively low churn rate." TiVo-owned subscription gross additions were 221,000 for the quarter, compared to 276,000 in the fourth quarter of last year. This fiscal fourth quarter was the second best quarter in TiVo's history in terms of TiVo-owned subscription net additions. TiVo-owned subscription net additions were 183,000 compared to 251,000 in the fourth quarter of last year. These numbers represent a decline compared to last year, reflective of the more challenging competitive environment. The company also said that, "in terms of sequential quarter-over-quarter percentage growth, this year represented a significant improvement over last year, showing early traction from TiVo's new marketing programs." TiVo added 173,000 DirecTV ( DTV) subscriptions in the quarter, compared to 379,000 in the third quarter.
TiVo also said customers will be able to bundle together the purchase of their TiVo 80-hour Series2 box and TiVo service at an all-in-one price, based on a one-, two- or three year commitment. Those run $19.95 a month or $224 prepaid for one year, $18.95 a month or $369 prepaid for two, and $16.95 a month or $469 prepaid for three years. The changes will launch next week and will not affect TiVo's current subscription base. As part of the announcement, TiVo is also announcing an update to its service-only options, providing consumers that purchase a TiVo unit at a retail outlet with the option to purchase their TiVo service based on one-, two- or three-year commitments upfront. The lifetime service agreement option will be eliminated. For the first quarter, TiVo expects to post revenue in the range of $48 million to $50 million, where analysts were looking for $50.2 million. The company said it would lose around $20 million, citing the effects of expensing options, increased costs resulting from TiVo's ongoing patent litigation, the higher marketing spending driven by the impact of new pricing models announced today, and a potential expense for a change in accounting policy associated with the rollout of new pricing models. Tolman Geffs, a managing director at Jordan Edmiston Group, says that Tivo is a "a great application that certainly built an early adaptor market, but the next leap forward will need to be one of convenience." Geffs, who has no position in the stock, remarks that consumers aren't very keen to have a seperate box at any price point and that they want TiVo-type service offerings to be part of their cable or TV box. Late Wednesday, TiVo rose 13 cents to $5.88.