By Harry McCracken | Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 6:00 am
Beloved-but-beleaguered DVR pioneer TiVo has found itself a ally: Best Buy. The two companies have struck a deal that will see TiVo boxes heavily marketed in Best Buy stores, reports Brad Stone in the New York Times. The relationship will put Napster (owned by Best Buy) on TiVo’s set-top boxes, and let Best Buy deliver information and shopping opportunities through the TiVos it sells. Best Buy also plans to build TiVo software into its house-brand TVs under the Dynex and Insignia labels.
The Times story includes one statistic which, if you like TiVo as much as I do, is alarming: Two years ago, there were 1.727 million households with TiVos, and that number has fallen to 1.6 million today. Most of the defectors have presumably left TiVo in favor of renting DVRs from their cable companies for a few bucks a month, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them did so when they upgraded their TV setups to HD and needed to replace aging standard-definition TiVo units.
As good as TiVo is, it’s a far costlier entertainment option than a cable DVR: You’ve got to both buy a box and pay Tivo a monthly fee that’s higher than cable DVRs cost. (Some of us choose to pay TiVo a sizable one-time fee rather than the monthly subscription.) I’d like to see the world look at TiVo as a premium product that’s worth the extra bucks, and perhaps the arrangement with Best Buy will result in more folks buying and loving TiVo. I know I don’t want to be part of a relentlessly dwindling cult…