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MV Mailbag: TIVO, Federated and More!




I came into the week surly and the No. Cal sun is shining in a way that says "Hey, Macke... you should be hitting golf balls, getting ready for the Ojai Minyan Open!".

I am thus setting the writing process to Warp Speed with a Mail Bag in the hopes of being on the range by the time this posts. Buckle-up, lean back and brace yourselves while we dive right in...

Dueling TiVO (TIVO) emails from the same source:

9:52AM: Macke- There's a post at that seems to indicate that a possible new Netflix (NFLX) download service for TiVO, or other PVRs, is about to be launched. Someone has noticed a section on the account info page for "Netflix player" that links to "Register Player".

Minyan JG

11:16AM Macke- Looks like the DirecTV (DTV)/ NDS Group (NNDS) DVRs are going on sale August 1st with a $100 rebate. Not so good for TiVO... looks like the (DTV) umbilical cord is now cut...

Minyan JG


These are great emails for three reasons (just off the top of my head). First, the ability to whip around the web and find information that is actually useful, in an investment way, is a skill set that can be developed and used to generate some investment outperformance. The truth is out there, as sci-fi geeks are persistently fond of saying.

Second, the links here illustrate that the web, for stock research purposes, is the Wild West. That doesn't diminish the value of the finds, simply that everything you read there has to be taken with a grain of salt, given the unending list of potential conflicts and motivations behind people posting the information. Which makes web-research right about on par with your average analyst report.

Third, your sharing of the finds both illustrates the synergy of the Ville (more info, discussed by smart("ish", Billy) people, open to input from everyone) and, by extension, gets me closer to hitting golf balls.

The NDS box is "scheduled" to be released on August 1st, as it has been for a while. NDS was also "scheduled" to have a prototype working for conventions in January and April and missed both of those dates but, hey, I assume NDS will figure it out, eventually.

The rubber hits the road for TiVO proving their worth over the next year. DTV is dumping TiVO, in my endlessly mulled opinion, entirely because Rupert Murdoch and family own a majority interest in NDS. I voted with my feet by selling my DTV stock on this decision (not b/c I was mad on behalf of TiVO, staying long NDS and or DTV would actually have been a decent hedge in that case. I sold b/c I want my CEO's running the company for my shareholder interest, not to kick money to their family entities).

My assumptions and opinions are:

  • DTV will push the NDS box hard. They haven't pushed DVRs at all during their partnership with Tivo, despite Ruperts stated goal to get DVRs in every house. They figure to push 'em, now.
  • Obviously, TiVO's DTV boxes stop selling, either entirely or virtually so.
  • Though this "event" has been forecast since 2003, at some point an analyst will notice the NDS boxes are on sale and this observation will hurt Tivo's stock.
  • If/ when this hit happens, I'll buy more TiVO stock. Not because I'm suicidal (I want to hit Peppy with a shovel [mostly for being competitively witty]. Not myself). I simply think TiVO does a better job than existing competitors and I rather expect the NDS box to more or less a TiVO knock-off, only promoted harder.

In short, if the Comcast (CMCSK) deal with TiVO makes Comcast no money, TiVO is in a world of hurt.

I think the TiVO partnership will make Comcast quite a bit of money.

Add it all up and I remain long a non-trading amount of TiVO and I've got more to add on a possible move down off this. The move "shouldn't" happen, given that the NDS move is hardly a shock, but I've learned that such factors tend not to matter w/ TiVO's stock.

As for the NFLX partnership "hint/ rumor/ thing-read-on-the-web-that-can't-be-confirmed-but-is useful". I'm moderately happy that there is some evidence for the NFLX/ TiVO partnership might actually be rolled out in the forseeable future but I give the evidence less weight than the NDS link.


Because I know the NDS box will come out, eventually. I have less confidence that TiVO and NFLX will figure out a service to be launched in the immediate term.

Personal to Minyan Arlen:

Brother, your email (kind thoughts about my helping the process of dealing with the agony of "family issues") made my day.

I've gotten a few notes on the topic of empathy regarding the stuff I've shared about my dad's Parkinsons. While I'm generally careful to couch my views as "opinions" rather than "fact" (though, like everyone I know, I tend to regard them as one in the same) I can tell you all the following, which I will state as Fact and defend that view to the death:

"EVERYONE, no matter how Great or Walter Mitty you may think they are, has had to deal with the almost explosively brutal downside of 'life'. When you reach out to those people, you define yourself as someone with compassion and a capacity for Thick or Thin friendship."

Arlen and everyone else who has reached out to me... "Thank you" doesn't do my feelings justice but comes directly from my heart. Keep fighting the good fight and know that you helped someone else today. It may not be something you can trade for a trip to Cabo but it's a more than enough to regard today as a good one.

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Positions in Tivo and NFLX

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