It's no secret that in recent months there's been some, um, strain in
TiVo's relationship with
DirecTV, the satellite TV provider
that accounts for TiVo's subscriber base, but why did this once happy partnership go south? Phillip Swann thinks it has
a lot to do with Rubert Murdoch, DirecTV's mack daddy, and his failure to buy a controlling interest in TiVo back in
late 2003/early 2004. Why did TiVo resist closer integration with the company they so closely relied on for customers?
Swann says it's because they were concerned that striking a deal with DirecTV (and its 14 million subscribers) would
prevent them from ever being able to work with any of the cable companies (which have access to nearly 70 million
homes). In highsight it was probably the right move on their part given their
recent deal with Comcast, but TiVo saying no to Rupert
did result in a series of events that put the company on shaky financial ground, events which culminated in January
with DirecTV's announcement at CES that they're were going to offer their
own in-house digital video recorder to their customers
that would cost less than TiVo's offering. That move has left of people guessing that DirecTV isn't going to renew
their current marketing arrangement with TiVo when it expires, which means that TiVo better have cut a sweet enough
deal with Comcast to make up for any projected loss of revenue.