TiVo Corporation – The Power of Two in Digital Entertainment

Tivo Corporation was formed with Rovi’s acquisition of the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) pioneer TiVo in 2016. With the acquisition, Rovi strengthened its position as a “leader in media discovery, metadata, analytics, and IP licensing” (Tom Carson, ex-CEO of Rovi). TiVo Inc. was founded in 1997 by Jim Barton and Mike Ramsay to build a home network device. They developed the device as a digital media recorder that worked with all kinds of programming including cable, antenna, and satellite broadcasting. The company went public two years later and partnered with various hardware manufacturers such as Philips, Sony, Toshiba, Samsung and Humax.

TiVo rose to fame in the early 2000s, when it was being widely used for recording live television to be watched later. TiVo built a strong portfolio of digital entertainment device patents and was targeted by Apple, Google and Microsoft as a potential acquisition. Ultimately Rovi beat out the competition and acquired TiVo.

Rovi itself came into existence after Macrovision acquired the television listings provider Gemstar in 2009, and gave the combined entity a new name. With the merger of Rovi and TiVo, their combined portfolio of over 5000 patents became a strong defense against the larger media companies. The combined entity now has a broader product portfolio and access to a larger range of patented technologies.

In this report, we take a closer look at TiVo’s patent assets and present the technology trends, litigation history and competitor comparison for the company.

General Trends

Patent publication trend [Click on image to enlarge]

The two companies came together in 2016, bringing their technological capabilities, product portfolios and patents together, which corresponds to the surge in their combined patent publications post 2016 as shown in Figure 1.

Top geographies [Click on image to enlarge]

Figure 2 shows the top jurisdictions where the patent applications have been filed. The maximum number of patent publications have been filed in the US, followed by EPO.







Technology Trends

A considerable share of TiVo’s revenues comes from licensing its patents. The company boasts of a strong patent portfolio related to media devices and technologies. The average quality of the patent portfolio is relatively high with an average Relecura Star rating of 2.35 out of 5. Typically, a patent with a Relecura Star rating of 3 or more is deemed as one of high-quality. The Relecura Star rating ranks each patent on a scale of five. It is a proprietary composite metric incorporating multiple criteria. The metric combines different technology, business, and litigation related factors.

Figure 3: Patent quality by sub-technologies [Click on image to enlarge]

Figure 3 shows the quality spread of TiVo’s patents in different technology categories. It is also seen that a significant number of the high-quality patents belong to the interactive TV and video-on-demand technology categories.

Topi map – concepts [Click on image to enlarge]

Figure 4 displays a Topic Map of the technology-related concepts addressed by TiVo’s portfolio. In the Topic Map, the size of a bubble corresponds to the total number of patent applications addressing a concept. The bubble proximity corresponds to the “relatedness” of the individual concepts. As expected, a large part of the TiVo’s portfolio consists of patent assets related to streaming media, interactive television and video-on-demand technologies.

TiVo is known for its patent litigation against larger companies such as Cisco, Samsung, Toshiba, Hulu, Comcast and others. TiVo’s three-year-old legal battle with Comcast is still on-going. While TiVo is demanding that Comcast pays for its long-standing IP license, Comcast is contending that TiVo seeks to charge companies for technology that it did not invent. Our report provides a comprehensive litigation history of the company. 

Competitor Analysis

In 2018, Amazon was reported to be working on a technology to compete with TiVo’s offerings. The device was aimed at recording live TV that would allow users to play the content later on their handheld devices. While the larger companies are attempting to capture the market with content delivery services and partnering with other providers, smaller players with strong patent and technology portfolios such as Roku are giving direct competition to TiVo. Our competitor analysis shows that TiVo leads the market in technologies related to interactive TV and video-on-demand technologies, against its competitors such as Roku, Alphabet, Amazon, Netflix, Comcast and Apple. Read our report to get the complete picture with additional insights on the different aspects of TiVo’s portfolio.

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