TiVo Over-The-Top Viewing Surpasses Live Content; On Hulu Revenues

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January 16, 2012 – 1:57 am

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TiVo Over-The-Top Viewing Surpasses Live Content

With TiVo's apparent success in reaching out to advertisers – Maitra said that the company has increasingly drawn traditional advertisers, especially consumer packaged goods marketers – a path has been shown to other OTT providers prepared to walk the tightrope between traditional programming support and broadband delivery.

Still, aren't TiVo viewers a little more tech-centric than the rest of the population?

TVExchanger.com sat down briefly with Tara Maitra, SVP and General Manager of Content and Media Sales at the company's booth at the Consumer Electronics Show and she insisted that while TiVo users may once have been considered outside the mainstream in terms of being more advanced and media savvy, she says its users now represent more of a cross-section of the wider population. After all, doesn't it make sense that subscribers to a DVR service would naturally be time-shifting most of their programming?

Perhaps, but DVRs were always considered something that viewers would use to just catch up on live shows they missed. No one really thought that even technically-advanced TiVo users would necessarily embrace time-shifting as way of life. The big question is whether TiVo households look like other DVR homes, which is starting to reach 50 percent of the cable/satellite population.

"Yes, we do have great demographics, but the notion that TiVo is still mostly male, early-adopters is passed," Maitra said told us. "Our demos our households. If anything, as we track our users to generic DVR households, we find that there's a three-month lag as to when someone gets a new DVR to having the same type of usage patterns that TiVo users exhibit. We think that the TiVo universe is representative of all DVR usage."

So what does this mean for advertisers? OTT doesn't tend to have a natural line for media buyers the way that websites and traditional TV networks and cable providers do. But for years, TiVo has been able to strike deals with content companies, agencies and marketers - and that has helped keep the programming spigot open, as TiVo has made sure not to present itself as an existential threat to the existing order.

With TiVo's apparent success in reaching out to advertisers - Maitra said that the company has increasingly drawn traditional advertisers, especially consumer packaged goods marketers - a path has been shown to other OTT providers prepared to walk the tightrope between traditional programming support and broadband delivery.

But winning over consumers is probably tougher part. For one thing, doesn't the major appeal of time-shifting lie in the ability to avoid commercials.

"There's always a struggle between ad sales and the product team," Maitra said. "You never want to introduce advertising that could produce a negative viewing experience. All of our ad units are designed to catch viewers during natural breaks in their viewing, such as when someone is queuing up a show or searching for something to watch. At any point with TiVo, you can always go back to what you were watching no matter what. That's why our opt-in rates for ads are so much higher."

She also noted that over the past year, TiVo has delivered 2 billion impressions - the same as Comcast, which has over 14 million subscribers to the DVR service's 2 million subs. "We have created ad inventory that viewers want to see, it's simple as that."

Hulu Revenue Rise, Plans More Originals

The video streaming joint venture said in a blog post that it saw revenues rise 60 percent from 2010 to approximately $420 million in 2011. CEO Jason Kilar added that its subscription service Hulu Plus now has more than 1.5 million paying users and that it's attracting more than 2x the number of subscribers each day when compared to this time last year.

While Kilar said that Hulu "exceeded our plan despite the soft advertising market (economy) in the second half of 2011," AllThingsD's Peter Kafka recalled that the company had previously said the service was on pace to reach $500 million this past year.

Sure, missing revenue projections by a 16 percent isn't so bad, when you consider how many other companies missed scaled back revenue targets. And how many gained 60 percent.

But with so many eyes on YouTube's plans to offer more professional content – see last week's New Yorker profile of the Google-owned video site here – Hulu is going to be under more pressure to continue to maintain those high CPMs and significant growth rates. As such, Hulu's promises will come under even greater scrutiny over the next several months.

But Wait. There's More!

By David Kaplan


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January 16, 2012 – 1:57 am

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