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Can somebody tell TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO ) that this isn't an arms race anymore?
The DVR pioneer introduced the TiVo Premiere Elite yesterday, and the specs are juicy. The new $499 box has four tuners, allowing owners to record four different shows while they watch a fifth. Storage has been bumped up to a beefy two terabytes, which is essentially enough space to save 300 hours of high-def television.
This all sounds great until you remember that it's not 2001 anymore. It's 2011, and couch potatoes just don't think that way.
Who needs to records four shows at once? We live in streaming times, where content is available on demand. What are the chances that there will be four things on live that you will ultimately want to watch anyway?
Storage? I get it. Data keeps getting cheaper. Seagate (NYSE: STX ) just introduced a four-terabyte external drive at an attractive $250 price point.
Still, this is a DVR, and we're living in the era of cloud computing. Who needs to save shows when Hulu or Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) or the broadcaster itself will gladly serve it up for you later? If you can fill your TiVo with 300 hours of high-def content then you don't need a Premiere Elite: You need a vacation.
Obviously TiVo isn't dumb. Its boxes also do a lot of the streaming extracurricular work that set-top boxes have to do these days. However, when you pair an expensive DVR with a costly subscription plan, TiVo's value proposition is just out of touch.
This isn't some anecdotal rant. The numbers prove it. TiVo may have posted better-than-expected quarterly results two weeks ago, but we're still talking about another profitless showing. More importantly, TiVo continues to shed net subscribers. TiVo had 1.93 million cumulative subscriptions at the end of July, 33,000 fewer TV buffs than it watched over just three months earlier and a whopping 456,000 plunge over the past year.
What does it tell you when the specs get bigger but the couch potato count gets smaller? If you're that one person that's breezing through this article because you have four shows recording right now that you want to see later, you need to get out more.
Oh, and while you're there, take TiVo with you.
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