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TiVo Won’t Use Roamio As Weapon Against Cable

Despite the seemingly large potential otherwise, TiVo CEO Tom Rogers said the company won’t use its Roamio over-the-air set-top to capture disgruntled cable customers, but rather hopes to encourage operators to use the product to address what is becoming a growing non-video base.

Rogers, at the Sanford Bernstein strategic decisions conference in Boston, was asked by Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger why TiVo doesn’t pursue a more concerted Roamio effort. Juenger noted that TiVo already bought the subscriber list of the last great over-the-air threat (Aereo), has sold about 1 million Roamio boxes through retail outlets and receives higher monthly fees from that service ($12-$14 per month) compared with the $2 per subscriber per month it receives from MVPDs for its other services.

With momentum moving toward alternatives to cable and satellite operators, the time would appear to be right to launch a major Roamio marketing effort.

Rogers said that while that sounds compelling, the margins on the $2 TiVo receives from operators is high, mainly because it doesn’t incur marketing costs.

He added that TiVo can boost Roamio’s scope without alienating that client base. Broadband customers already outstrip video customers at most major cable operators; Charter, Cablevision Systems and Time Warner Cable, for example, each had more high-speed Internet subscribers than video customers in the first quarter. (At Comcast, the number was about even).

That being said, TiVo is prepared to continue backing the retail Roamio product.

“On the retail proposition, the time is right, the mindset is there,” Rogers said. “We are prepared to put some greater marketing muscle behind this proposition than we have in the past.”