Thus begins a letter to TiVo shareholders from the company’s chief executive, Tom Rogers, that was filed with the SEC Monday, that he may hope takes their minds off the 25 percent plunge in the company’s stock price so far this year.
“I decided that rather than give you a typical operational update on the company’s progress,” wrote Rogers, “it was more valuable to lay out what TiVo is today, what the key trends are in the television industry, what are the transformational issues that we see challenging the industry, and how all of this can result in great opportunity for TiVo to further weave its way into the fabric of the media industry.”
He spins a vision of getting anything you want to watch on your television set whenever you want it, and even stuff you don’t know that you want through search and discovery suggestions that, Google-like, “are so personally relevant you are always guaranteed to have just what you wanted to see anytime you turn your TV on. A fantasy? Far into the future maybe?” asks Rogers rhetorically. “Not at all. This is essentially what TiVo offers today.”
But there is trouble lurking in this paradise:
“The viewer will be totally in control of what he or she watches and when. Broadcast and cable networks, cable and satellite operators, no longer dictate the TV viewing schedule. Viewers are able to decide what is watched, and very importantly, exactly what won’t be watched. Including commercials.”
“Now, Pause. Sit up. In this issue lies what may be the single biggest challenge to the television industry. So far the television world has been spared much of the financial pain that print media has experienced. However, with 50 million or more households, representing what could be two thirds or more of the households most desirable for advertisers to reach, avoiding half or more commercials that are aired on their TV sets, the broadcast and cable industries are headed for an enormous crisis.”
(Misery, as the saying goes, loves company, so we got a momentary thrill reading about a looming crisis elsewhere in the media. We’ve gotten so tired of our own.)
But what TiVo taketh away in the forced consumption by TV watchers of commercial messages, it also giveth in research into their viewing habits to unlock targeted “ad solutions.” Be not afraid, Hollywood, TiVo will help you cross into the promised land.
Rogers ends his letter to shareholders with this bit of self-deprecating wit:
“Now that you’ve read this, I certainly hope that you feel that had you been really relaxing in front of your television set instead of reading this, you would have not fast forwarded through this message.”