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TiVo Plugs In Hulu, As Subs Dwindle

5/31/2011 8:01 AM Eastern

TiVo customers with Premiere digital
video recorders can now flick on Hulu Plus for an
additional $7.99 per month, the latest component of the
company’s over-the-top video
strategy aimed at stopping users
from dropping TiVo service.

TiVo’s cumulative subscriber
tally has dropped to a sevenyear
low. Over the past year, the
digital video recorder company
has lost 548,000 subscribers,
a 22% year-over-year decline, to
stand at 1.96 million as of the
end of April.

By adding Hulu Plus and other
broadband-delivered content,
TiVo hopes to try to reverse
the tide of subscriber defections.
“We … continue to believe that consumers want easy access
to the vast amount of broadband content choices that are
continually increasing,” TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers
said in announcing the company’s earnings last week.

Meanwhile, Hulu Plus won’t necessarily be available via
TiVo DVRs supplied through cable operators.

TiVo has struck deals with pay TV operators including
RCN, Suddenlink Communications and Charter Communications,
which currently offer or plan to offer Premiere DVRs
to their customers.

In order for the MSO-supplied boxes to receive Hulu
Plus, Hulu would need an official content-distribution
agreement with those operators, according to TiVo. The
DVR maker noted, however, that the Premiere DVR platform
available through operators is capable of supporting
Hulu Plus.

TiVo announced plans to offer
Hulu Plus seven months ago.
Hulu has not disclosed how
many subscribers it has signed
up for the service since introducing
it last November, but
CEO Jason Kilar has claimed
it is on track to top 1 million
by the end of 2011. The company
was founded in 2007 and is
owned by NBCUniversal, News
Corp., The Walt Disney Co.,
Providence Equity Partners and
certain Hulu employees.

Hulu Plus provides current shows from broadcast networks
ABC, Fox and NBC including Modern Family, Grey’s
Anatomy
, Glee, Family Guy, The Office and 30 Rock; cable
content from Comedy Central and MTV, including The
Colbert Report
and The Daily Show; and full series runs
and back seasons of dozens of older shows.

Hulu Plus is available on a range of Internet-connected
devices, including PCs, Apple iPads and iPhones, Microsoft
Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, Roku set-tops and
Samsung, Sony and Vizio HDTVs and Blu-ray players.

In a promotion that runs through Aug. 31, TiVo and
Hulu will offer six months of free Hulu Plus service to customers
of newly purchased TiVo Premiere DVRs, while existing
Premiere users are being offered a one-month trial.

TiVo claims to provide access to more than 7 million
pieces of video content to Premiere DVR users, from overthe-
top services including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon.com
and Blockbuster.

“As the world’s first smart DVR, TiVo Premiere
brings the best entertainment from cable and the Web
together in one place, with one easy-to-use remote and
simple search features for one truly brilliant TV experience,”
TiVo senior vice president and general manager
of content services and media sales Tara Maitra
said in a statement.

For its first quarter ended April 30, 2011, TiVo posted
revenue of $45.8 million (down 25%) and net income of
$139.0 million — thanks to $175.7 million TiVo allocated
in the quarter from the Dish Network settlement. Excluding
the Dish payment, TiVo’s net loss would have been
$36.2 million.

September