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TiVo case study and changing market analysis

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    Executive Summary

    In its fairly short history, TiVo has succeeded in creating marketable digital video recorder (DVR) technology applications and bundled services. It has also succeeded in establishing the foundation of a brand identity in the consumer electronics / home entertainment marketplace.

    TiVo has reached a delicate moment in its development, since its efforts have not been proven sufficient to generate the momentum needed to push broad scale adoption of its DVR-enabled products and services. The company currently witnesses a low profitability and inability to achieve proper market penetration.

    An analysis of the current and anticipated company’s situation, in its interaction with the market environment, indicates that overall financial and sales objectives expected by TiVo would be satisfied if the company’s line of actions includes strategies to maximize its exposure in relation to the opportunities offered by a growing market.

    TiVo needs to defensively protect its current market share and to offensively look for ways to increase it through improved marketing strategy.

    Problem Statement

    TiVo’s management is facing a challenging problem: low profitability generated by the incapacity to increase revenues through growth. Although TiVo’s overall marketing strategy appears feasible, its implementation fails to capture a leading market share, failure attributed to flaws in the pricing and advertising strategy.

    The company’s primary objective is to achieve growth through sales increase and generate positive cash flows. This could be accomplished through development of a new pricing strategy, changes in the advertising campaign and improvements in the product strategy.

    Situation Analysis

    Market The DVR technology and the industry that has grown up around it is relatively new, its market being at the intersection point of three markets: broadcast and TV, PC software and hardware, and electronic consumer products (Exhibit 2).

    The environmental stability is relatively low: rapid technological change, price range of competition relatively high, low barriers to entry (technology is easy to replicate; there is a lack of patents) and many substitute products. Latest trends indicate the formation of partnerships between satellite services providers and firms supplying DVR devices and services, giving them access to distribution networks, programming content and web access.

    The industry strength is moderate, but the growth potential is high – analysts agreed that the DVR industry is going to experience a rapid increase, predicting a move from its currently early adopter phase, well into the early majority phase in less than five years, with estimated sales between 30 and 55 million units by 2005.

    Customers TiVo’s customers have changed. From early adopters, mostly young and men, now TiVo attracts busy individuals with middle to upper income, young families with children, professionals, homeowners, mostly between 25-54 years old, all of them involved TV viewers.

    Currently, TiVo’s customers fall into two categories: 1) convenience seekers – are buying and using TiVo for its advanced recording features, and 2) control seekers – people who prefer to watch live TV and use TiVo features such as pause live TV. (Exhibit 3)

    The convenience seekers category represents 70% of the customers, and the common benefit offered to them by TiVo is “that TiVo was liberating their daily lives”.

    Competition Considering its product positioning on the market (Exhibit 4) and its dual utility (digital recorder and TV viewing enhancer), TiVo’s competition falls into the following categories:

    – VCR and DVD recorder. These hold several advantages over TiVo: they are assisted by the existence of complementary industries such as the home movie rental and videotapes and DVDs retailing, and in addition, many of these competing technologies possess well-established and well-recognized brands, have strong distribution channels, large advertising and marketing budgets. This category is extremely important to TiVo, given the customer structure, because it addresses to the convenience seeker. Competing successfully in this market requires TiVo to develop and increase the awareness of the functionality of the product in order to educate consumers on the benefits of its offering over these better-known technologies.

    – Broadcasting and TV. TiVo’s presence on this market is characterized by the lack of awareness on its product features and a higher price than the competition. Here, the customer does not have to choose between TiVo and competition, but to choose whether or not to pay extra for TiVo. The challenge that is facing in this market is mostly a matter of offering incentives for the customer to generate the need for TiVo’s features.

    – DVR and PC. While Microsoft’s UltimateTV experiment resulted in a failure, TiVo’s main direct competitor, ReplayTV, re-entered the DVR market with an expensive product and a promise for a more affordable unit in the close future. Also, DVR technology is fairly easy to replicate on a PC with a large hard drive and a video card, correlated with a lack of patents for TiVo’s proprietary software. This market segment is going to be faced with rapid development, high competition and growth.

    Company Established in the late 90’s, TiVo had the first mover advantage on the newly created DVR market. Based on the idea of interactive television, TiVo linked the improvements in the hardware manufacturing with newly developed features in order to revolutionize TV watching, thus to change human behavior on a mass scale – a huge challenge for TiVo’s marketing team. Since its early development, TiVo has continually invested in the improvement and addition of features and functionality for its product.

    The company’s financial picture is weak, with negative but growing profits, but this is usually characteristic for its current product life cycle position (Exhibit 5). TiVo has a good corporate image, product quality and uniqueness, and high customer loyalty and satisfaction. One main environmental issue relates to the possible threat that TiVo represents to the advertisement industry – as consumers choose to see pre-taped programs they will watch fewer or skip the commercials that are the content providers’ main source of revenue.

    But despite these concerns, today, leading networks have endorsed the system, given the advantages that emerge for them from the TiVo feedback functions, and the fact that customers do not skip all the ads (during the Super bowl – they used the pause/replay feature on ads). Also, endorsements and alliances with content suppliers and hardware manufacturers offer strength, equity and a large potential customer base, thus, a certain advantage on a growing market (Exhibit 6).

    Still in the early adopter phase, TiVo is trying to establish its DVR technology as a standard part of entertainment over the coming years. The company is aggressively trying to sign on subscribers, generate content and conduct market research. TiVo is situated in an attractive industry, but it lacks the financial strength to pursue its current aggressive strategy, so it should consider a more defensive one (Exhibit 7).

    Marketing Mix

    Target Initial strategy was to target early adopters and generate a buzz effect. After analyzing the customer surveys conducted by TiVo, the convenience seekers segment stands out as the key target (Exhibit 3). From a behavioral point of view the question is how easily will they adopt and learn to use the product over the classic VCR, but the general trend is that people are getting more and more familiar with embracing new technologies.

    Targeting this segment, the strategy should focus on overcoming customers’ lack of awareness regarding TiVo’s features, and as a result, generate reasons to buy TiVo over the competition.

    Positioning and Differentiation Even though as a product TiVo is differentiating itself through uniqueness and novelty, the current strategy does not sustain this position.

    To maintain itself as a viable enterprise, TiVo needs to do a more effective job in: a) positioning its product in the marketplace as a “smart and friendly service that could improve” customers’ lifestyle, and b) distinguishing it from current and future competitors, changing the current perception of an expensive VCR with a monthly fee. Customers do not have a strong enough grasp of the technology to positively respond to an image-focused marketing effort, so TiVo’s strategy should educate consumers about the benefits associated with DVR technology and position TiVo as a TV content navigator, VCR supplement, and viewing enhancer.

    Product The duality of TiVo should be considered: the TiVo set-top box and the TiVo service, and what generates revenues for the company: the service.

    The company’s strategy should be to commoditize the product and make money on selling the service. Control of this business model is in the software rather than the hardware. A clear benefit for the service provider would be the development of TiVo enabled devices, and could be accomplished through opening its architecture to a wider base: for instance TVs with DVR hardware integrated. This also will allow increasing opportunities for innovation in the hardware. Therefore, the product strategy should focus on increasing the box distribution, thus the market size. The more devices that come already TiVo enabled, the larger TiVo’s potential market for its service. However, caution should be taken to ensure that consumers do not feel overwhelmed or begin to feel that they are paying for products they neither need nor desire.

    Price One of the main obstacles that customers have to overcome in order to purchase TiVo devices and services is the price. Currently, TiVo is not inexpensive enough to convince the average television and VCR customer to make the investment. In addition to the equipment and the monthly TiVo subscription, the user has to pay for the satellite or cable provider services. While TiVo is not manufacturing the boxes, in the eyes of the consumer, the service and the set-top box are linked. This pricing structure makes TiVo technology a significant investment for consumers.

    To deal with this critical issue, TiVo will have to consider revising its pricing strategy. Since the company is not manufacturing the box, it cannot directly control the hardware’s price. But it does control the price of its monthly subscription fee and the company should adjust it, so that the customer would be stimulated to buy TiVo (Exhibit 8).

    Place The complexity of the product and the novelty of the technology have made effective entry into retail establishments difficult. A fully functional display unit is often absent in these outlets and also, retailers do not usually send a unified message to the customer, the latter’s perception over TiVo’s functions being misleaded (different retailers emphasizing on different TiVo features).

    Retailer education is important, as is facilitating the correct store product presentation. Consumers often like to experience the new technology before purchasing it, and so far TiVo’s demonstrations failed at this. The company needs to ensure that retailers assign trained representatives, who can help demonstrate the benefits of TiVo’s functionality and services to interested consumers.

    Promotion While TiVo’s advertisements are humorous, they do not adequately explain the product, and so they do not have the desired impact on the customers. Current company’s strategy is specifying the fact that TiVo changes its customers lives, but if fails to explain how. Although TiVo seems to reach customers needs and provide satisfaction – given the high rate of customer retention, the customer acquisition did not rise up to the company’s expectations.

    A change in the company’s advertising strategy is a must. The company should shift its promotional campaign from building a brand image, to one that educates consumers about the functionality of DVR technology, and then establish TiVo as the desired DVR service brand name, by structuring its benefits in a manner that matches consumer behavior (Exhibit 9).


    The evolution of the DVR industry has not been smooth so far. Manufacturers, service providers and content providers have all contributed through a lack of synchronization and a confused product message to the slow proliferation of this new technology.

    TiVo’s ability to dominate the market lies upon the creation of an offering that, through improved marketing strategy, foresees the customers’ continuously changing needs.

    Exhibit 1 Alternatives Considered and Rejected

    1) Alternative product strategy Implementation of product features like swappable hard drives


    – developing a network effect around the product

    – can send incentives among customers to buy the device so they can watch what friends recorded

    – developing of rental services for this hard drives (given the large capacity)


    – the need to security features to watch only TiVo hard drives not the competition’s

    – TiVo has to compete with VCR and DVD prices

    – the service subscription rate will probably fall, given the possibility of renting or borrowing the hard drive

    – recommended for the maturity stage in the TiVo PLC

    2) Alternative price strategy Multiple levels of price and services


    – can attract larger number of customers

    – customers with a low priced service might like it and want more features, thus switch to a more expensive one


    – customers might turn down TiVo due to lack of functions in the cheaper service

    – not good for the current stage in of TiVo’s PLC. Recommended for the end of growth stage

    3) Alternative promotion strategy Different logo & brand identity (techno type)


    – better relationship with the functionality and utility of the product

    – more appealing to the targeted customers (technology embracers)


    – TiVo is selling the service mainly, which can be “cute” and friendly

    – leader in the market segment, customers have already a brand awareness

    Exhibit 2 TiVo at the intersection point of three markets

    TiVo’s relationships with these markets:

    Broadcasting and TV

    Electronic consumer products

    PC software and hardware


    Dependability for content


    Base for product manufacturing and software development

    Possible competitor

    Competition level

    Medium – Low


    Low (potential high)


    – Threat from networks and advertisers for the commercials skip function

    – Lack of TiVo features awareness among customers

    – Higher price

    – Lack of differentiation from the customers point of view

    – Technology risk – the software can be developed on a PC with large hard drive and video card


    Form agreements with the networks (the feedback function) and implement the recommended advertising strategy

    Implement the recommended product, advertising & pricing strategy

    Implement the recommended product & pricing strategy

    Exhibit 3 Customer Analysis

    Customer type

    Convenience Seeker

    Control Seeker

    Brand interpretation

    Super VCR

    TV enhancer

    Buy TiVo for

    Ability to record TV programs

    Ability to control live TV


    25 – 44

    20 – 34


    Males or Women

    Mostly Males

    Family Status

    Single, married or married with children

    Single or married

    Household income level

    $51,000 +

    $41,000 +


    Bachelors +

    High school +


    – Buy TiVo for the recording and programming capabilities

    – Buy Tivo for the advanced features that offer control of live TV: Trick Play

    – Early to late technology adopters

    – Early technology adopters

    – They like technology product that are convenient, easy to use

    – They buy new technology products to keep up

    – TV and VCR/DVD combination is an important sources of entertainment for them and their families

    – TV is a main source of entertainment

    – Busy schedules

    – Not so busy schedules

    – They have favorite shows (ex: prime-time shows) they do not want to miss

    – Most probably to watch sporting events and season premiers

    – They watch mostly basic channels along with premium, and also children programs

    – They watch mostly premium channels and pay-per-view

    – They do not mind if is a rerun or if they know the result of a game, the relaxation and the quality time they spend with their families or friends is more important

    – They would not miss a live game or a season premier episode, for them recorded programs are “old news”

    Exhibit 4 Product positioning map

    Exhibit 5 Product Life Cycle

    Exhibit 6 SWOT Analysis



    Product quality and features

    Customers loyalty and satisfaction

    Strategic partnerships

    Customer service

    Brand image

    Single suppliers for hardware – reliance on partners

    Separated from customers by partners

    Financial situation

    Pricing and advertising promotion

    Customer education on features

    Retailer relationship



    High predicted market growth

    Customized programming & advertising

    Market research engine through the feedback function

    Proprietary technology

    Product novelty and versatility

    Large potential customer base from alliances

    Advertising networks – possible legal challenges

    Strong competitors

    Low barriers to entry the market

    Many competition levels

    Exhibit 7 Financial Analysis

    – high investment in new-product development given by high R&D percentage in total operating expenses

    – aggressive marketing strategy given by the total marketing percentage in total operating expenses

    – total marketing and R&D cumulated percentage – very high => TiVo is concentrating its efforts on promoting brand awareness

    – revenues growth rate is following the subscription growth rate, with a certain delay in its reaction. Customer growth rate going up => will the revenues follow?

    – gross profits are negative but growing => TiVo is starting to make some positive gross profit margins

    – operating margins are going up, but still not profitable

    Exhibit 8 Recommended Pricing Strategy

    The present TiVo acquisition method consists from $399 for the hardware, $12.95 monthly fee for service (or $200 lifetime subscription) and satellite or cable provider fee, thus a high initial acquisition cost.

    Recommended method (note 1):

    The price of the hardware should be incorporated in the monthly fee and the service should be leased on a 2-year contract base.

    – assume the cost the box for TiVo: $300

    – after 2 years, the value depreciates to 10% of the initial value: $300 x 0.1 = $30

    – thus the given lease value is $300 – $30 = $270

    – monthly installments: $270 / 24 months = $11.25

    – new TiVo monthly fee: $24.99 ( ~ $12.95 + $11.25) => it covers the 2-year lease for the box, and after the end of the contract it will generate higher revenues.

    Given the high price elasticity on the electronics markets, we have three alternatives:

    1) Price unit elastic – customer-based forecast

    Estimated growth rate for the 1st quarter 2002: weighted average growth rate

    => 1stQ-01 x 10% + 2ndQ-01 x 20% + 3rdQ-01 x 20% + 4thQ-01 x 50%

    => 23.53 x 0.1 + 21.16 x 0.2 + 22.27 x 0.2 + 35.71 x 0.5 = 28.89%

    – Estimated growth rate for the 1st quarter 2002: 28.89%

    – Estimated new subscribers for the 1st quarter 2002: 109,797 (= 0.2889 x 380,000)

    – Projected revenue growth for the 1st quarter 2002: $5,487,654.06 (note 2)

    2) Price elastic relative to the lower acquisition cost – optimistic situation

    We assume that customers are sensitive to the small acquisition cost and consider the monthly fee reasonable (within the price range of TV services subscription).

    – Estimated growth rate for the 1st quarter 2002: 33.22% (= 28.89 + 28.89 x 0.15)

    – Estimated new subscribers for the 1st quarter 2002: 126,236 (= 0.3322 x 380,000)

    – Projected revenue growth for the 1st quarter 2002: $ 6,309,275.28 (note 2)

    3) Price elastic relative to the higher monthly fee – pessimist situation

    We assume that customers are not sensitive to the small acquisition cost and consider the monthly fee too high.

    Estimated growth rate for the 1st quarter 2002: 24.55% (= 28.89 – 28.89 x 0.15)

    Estimated new subscribers for the 1st quarter 2002: 93,290 (= 0.2455 x 380,000)

    Projected revenue growth for the 1st quarter 2002: $ 4,662,634.2 (note 2)

    Present method:

    Monthly subscription fee: $12.95

    Estimated growth rate for the 1st quarter 2002: 28.89% (customer-based forecast)

    Estimated new subscribers for the 1st quarter 2002: 109,797 (= 0.2889 x 380,000)

    Projected revenue growth for the 1st quarter 2002: $ 2,843,742.3 (note 2)

    Note 1: For this analysis we don’t consider any changes in the product (as those proposed in the product strategy), thus TiVo is still sold as a combination of the set-top box and the service (if the product strategy is followed, then the customers are going to percept TiVo only as the service – company’s goal).

    This strategy requires payment agreements with the hardware manufacturers, but the expected growth offers them incentives as well. If the company follows this strategy, the revenues are increasing, but part of the monthly fee goes toward the manufacturer, so the revenues growth is not going to be reflected in the company’s profits. If for example the fee increase ($11.25) goes to the manufacturer, TiVo is going to experience profit growth mostly after the ending of the 2-year contracts. A viable solution is to extend TiVo contracts with the hardware manufacturers over a period of time longer than 2 years.

    Another issue to be considered is that after 2 years, some customers will not renew the contract, thus the boxes given to some of the new customers don’t represent a cost. Also, the customers canceling the service don’t get stuck with a piece of equipment that they don’t have a use for.

    Further analysis and data are needed.

    Note 2: For the simplicity, we assume that the sales are linear (basically the same each month), even though in reality are seasonal or influenced by other factors. To calculate the quarterly revenue with known monthly fee we consider the following table:

    1st month

    2nd month

    3rd month




    1st month

    1/3 x customer# x mo. fee

    1/3 x customer# x mo. fee

    1/3 x customer# x mo. fee

    2nd month

    1/3 x customer# x mo. fee

    1/3 x customer# x mo. fee

    3rd month

    1/3 x customer# x mo. fee


    1/3 x customer# x mo. fee

    2/3 x customer# x mo. fee

    3/3 x customer# x mo. fee


    So the quarterly sales can be estimated with the formula: => 2 x customer# x mo. fee

    Exhibit 9 Recommended Advertising Strategy

    TV ads should focus on category awareness rather than brand awareness. Considering that the key target – convenience seekers might not watch enough live TV to be adequately exposed to the ads, TiVo should plan to schedule them during popular prime time shows or reruns of them, on basic channels and children’s programs.

    Media execution:

    1) A family is coming home late and after they put the kids to sleep, the young couple is watching a recorded show that was aired earlier that day. They don’t remember (or quarrel over) what happened in a previous episode, so they push the menu and choose from the episodes bank the one that they were interested in. The announcer should then say: “Now you can automatically record and view at the touch of a button your entire favorite shows using digital video recording technology. All you have to do is sit and enjoy.” And as the ad ends the TiVo logo should appear briefly.

    2) On a TV set is currently being aired live content (e.g., a sporting event) when the commercials begin. The ad showing with the network executives thrown of the window begins, but after they are thrown, the image should suddenly stop-rewind-play, again stop-rewind-play. Laughs are heard on the background along with a voice: “This is so funny; I have to see it again”. The image should then swivel gradually from the TV set to the young people or couple that enjoys watching the ad. The announcer should then say: “Yes, it is possible to do that with live TV using digital video recording technology”. And as the ad ends the TiVo logo should appear briefly.

    3) A group of friend in a supermarket with a cart filled with food (movie watching type – popcorn, etc.) is waiting in a check-out line. Other customers are peeking at them. Smiling, they justify: “Long movie night”. Next image is in the house with the group comfortably sitting on the sofa. The image swivels to the TV screen where the menu shows all “Taken” episodes (or other popular long series) and the “Play all” command is chosen. Then the image goes through the TV screen, components and wires (fast moving image), and reaches the inside of the hard drive (with the TiVo logo on it), which is looking like an immense hall – library like, with walls full of shelves filled with video tapes. The image then starts rotating slowly to capture the huge number of tapes. The announcer should then say with a low tone voice (“Taken”-like): “Is it possible? With TiVo it is.”

    4) A father and his 4-5 year-old daughter are sitting on the couch enjoying an episode of children programming (cartoons, Lassie, etc.). The episode ends, and the kid is asking for other episodes. The father then uses the remote, and the image should focus on the menu from whom the father chooses one from the multitude of recordings. The announcer should then say: “With TiVo you can have at the touch of a button your kid’s entire cartoon collection”.

    5) A kid is watching cartoons while in the background the mother is in the kitchen cooking. The kid needs to use the restroom but the action on TV is far to interesting to miss. The mother then hears the child, comes and pauses the cartoon using the remote, and sends her kid to the restroom, telling him that when he is going to came back, Tom & Jerry will still be here. The announcer should then say: “You won’t miss a thing with TiVo” (or: “Necessary breaks? You got them covered now with TiVo”).

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