TiVo: Sky partnership caused UK flop

TiVo Premiere - pointing to tech that will be in Virgin Media's next-gen box
TiVo Premiere - pointing to tech that will be in Virgin Media's next-gen box

TiVo has pointed the finger firmly at its ill-fated relationship with Sky as the reason for its failure to break into the UK market, but is confident that the same mistakes will be avoided in its forthcoming collaboration with Virgin Media.

Speaking to TechRadar at the launch of TiVo's new set-top boxes in New York, Vice President and General Manager Joshua Danovitz explained that the reason TiVo withdrew from the UK in 2003 was down to the creation of Sky+ rather than any lack of enthusiasm from the nation for personal video recorders.

"I would say it's less a tech failure and more a partnership failure," explained Danovitz when asked about the company's exit.

"We partnered with a company [BSkyB] that wasn't 100 per cent dedicated to promoting TiVo and soon after working with us and coming to market started promoting their own technology.

"I think that that can be related much more to a corporate policy and strategy discussion than it is to a market readiness or market acceptance.

"Additionally, at the time TiVo was incredibly young – we went public in 1999 and launched our first product, and we were in the UK by 2001.

"I would say we had not conquered the US enough to send out large mature teams to other key markets and we were depending on partners to do so and the situation with [BSkyB] was 'well if this is the way it's going to work then we're not going to be able to support that'."

Virgin Media partnership

Danovitz explained that TiVo's partnership with Virgin Media – announced back in November and likely to see the first products by the end of the year – was based on a much more solid model than its previous foray into the UK.

"Since [the last attempt to come into the UK] in the US we have retail products – we partnered with DirecTV, with Comcast etc and we've now launched in Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, Austrialia and New Zealand.

"The way we are doing all of these partnerships are similar to the Comcast and DirecTV models. They own the consumer – there is some commitment to deploy and distribute – they do the marketing and we provide the service.

"So the model of working with Virgin is very close to what we are doing domestically in the US with the largest operators and what we are doing all of those international deployments."

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.