Fading to black usually typifies an ending in television, but it just may be a new beginning for TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO). The well-loved but poorly performing digital video recording specialist posted a wider fourth-quarter loss but projected a return to profitability by the final quarter of the new fiscal year.

The stock hasn't been doing well since being singled out in our Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter in 2003, so the possibility of an end to quarterly losses comes as welcome news.

The only real mystery is to figure out who will still be around to report about the company's potential profitability. Executives have been jumping ship. Its partnership with DirecTV (NYSE:DTV), which was accounting for the biggest chunk of its 3 million subscribers, is being phased out. Rival products are being pitched by everyone from cable television providers like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) to computer giants like Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).

TiVo is still a great brand -- Bruce Willis was gushing all over TiVo on The Daily Show earlier this week -- yet the company's functionality is going to have to eclipse the various "me too" products out there that make up in price what they lack in personality.

For the new fiscal year, TiVo is looking to produce service and technology revenue between $155 million and $165 million. That compares with just $116 million last year. Although that source of revenue has typically been half of the company's base -- hardware sales make up the other piece of the pie -- it's the portion worth watching. The company has resorted to taking the near-term hit of huge rebates to drive system sales, but the subscriber side of the business should ultimately produce the margin gravy that investors have been counting on.

With DirecTV now promoting a rival's recorder, TiVo will have to hope for success in the retail channels through sellers like Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Target (NYSE:TGT), as well as do its best to keep churn in check by making sure its existing subscriber base is satisfied.

No, it won't be easy for TiVo, but this is reality -- and in reality, there are no rewind buttons.

If you do want to go back in time, revisit these related nuggets:

  • The $99 price point should be enough to win over new subscribers.
  • Most of the Stock Advisor recommendations have performed far better than this one.
  • TiVo has worked its way to 3 million subscribers the hard way.
  • Share your thoughts or pilfer those of others in our TiVo discussion board.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has owned a TiVo for years. Now if only he could use the pause button in real life, all would be well. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.