Table: TiVo's Travails
TiVo's service, which stores TV programs for later viewing, has won wide praise. But the company is struggling to reach profitability. Here are the hurdles it faces:
Even with $50 million in the bank, TiVo (TIVO ) needs more funds. Otherwise it will likely run out of money by February. That's 10 months before it expects to reach the breakeven level of 700,000 subscribers--triple today's level.
Deep-pocketed rivals are wooing consumers. Microsoft (MSFT ) is spending $50 million to promote UltimateTV, which is similar to TiVo. Satellite-TV provider EchoStar is offering a similar service to its 6 million customers. And in August, SonicBlue (SBLU ) bought rival ReplayTV.
Last year, TiVo spent $735 in marketing costs for each new subscriber. To save cash, TiVo is trimming ad budgets. That could backfire as consumers rein in spending.
TiVo owns patents for much of the technology used by both it and competitors. The company wants rivals like Microsoft and EchoStar to pay licensing fees but may not have enough money to take them to court.