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TiVo May Offer Service Plan That Includes Free Machine

From Reuters

TiVo Inc., facing increasing competition in the TV recording technology business, said Monday that it was considering giving away its television set-top boxes to win subscribers.

Chief Executive Tom Rogers said the Alviso, Calif.-based company, whose name has become synonymous with digital video recording -- including the ability to pause live television -- was close to offering a range of pricing options, including one that would include a free set-top box.

“We’re continuing to pursue the prospects of zero upfront and all upfront” pricing, Rogers said at a New York technology conference.

The company probably will soon begin the test to offer free boxes, possibly in exchange for higher-priced and longer-term plans, said Rogers, who was named chief executive in July.

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TiVo serves about 4 million subscribers, about two-thirds of them via partner DirecTV Group Inc. TiVo has been under pressure from Wall Street to expand its customer base as DirecTV has rolled out its own digital video recorders.

TiVo also faces competition from far bigger cable TV providers and consumer electronics makers that are offering rival digital video recorders to consumers. Some of the devices are more powerful than TiVo’s and are offered at lower prices and sometimes for free.

The company says its service, which costs most users about $13 a month, is superior, thanks to options such as the ability to buy movie tickets, listen to Internet radio stations and enjoy music and photos over a home computer network.

“As much as we do get skepticism about our future, there are over 4 million TiVo subscribers -- that number is growing,” he said. “We feel that the notion that TiVo has hit some kind of distribution wall and is no longer a growth animal is not the case.”

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Shares of TiVo fell 1 cent to $5.56.


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