Well, I’ve been getting more involved in this whole “How to Save TiVo” discussion over the past few weeks. I’m somewhat new to this whole media blog community (other than being a casual observer in the past) and I think I’ve been yelling from the stands long enough. I’ve been responding to postings at BuzzMachine, PVRBlog, A VC, Om Malik, The Long Tail, etc., but I think it’s time I used my own forum to better encapsulate my argument or risk sounding shrill in others. (This blog is about 10 days old, so please excuse the dust while I settle in.)
Looking at my postings from the past few days, I’m afraid that I sound a bit like some sort of blindly faithful “TiVotee,” refusing to accept the dismal position TiVo finds itself in because, well, I just love the product that much. But my reasons are a bit more complex than that, and while I do think TiVo is a good product, I’m under no delusions about its relative merit or the weaknesses in its business model. TiVo is indeed in a precarious situation, one in which mere rumors of its demise could be enough to actually kill it. This is not where any company would hope to be at this critical stage in its life cycle. By my feelings about TiVo are more related to my desire to see TiVo fill a role that I think is desperately needed in this market.
Due to the structure of this content distribution market, economies of scale and the necessity to absorb enormous financial risk have consolidated power in the hands of a small number of corporations. Now, before you hang up the phone, I’m an avid free marketer and believe that economic systems do find equilibrium, but I also believe that individual markets at their peak (or nadir) tend to distort market forces and need to be disrupted from their current trajectory. (It’s why we have laws against monopolies). I believe that the content distribution market has been in such a state for some time and the conditions necessary to disrupt this market’s trajectory are finally emerging.