Study: DVRs in 27 Percent of TV Homes


New research reaffirms that there’s a DVR boom underway, so why can’t TiVo capitalize on it? Leichtman Research Group (LRG) said today that 27 percent of TV households in the U.S. have at least one DVR, and 30 percent of those homes have more than one. Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG, is quoted as saying that the number of DVR households in the U.S. basically doubled in the past two years and will double again in the next four years.

LRG’s estimate is in line with recent data from Nielsen, which put the DVR install base at 25 percent of U.S. homes.

Other findings from the LRG study include:

  • 68 percent of DVR owners say they usually watch recorded DVR programs when there is nothing on regularly scheduled TV
  • 35 percent of DVR owners feel that they spend more time watching programs recorded on their DVR than regularly scheduled programs
  • 45 percent of DVR owners record five or fewer programs per week

Backing up a previous study from NDS, LRG found that people really like their DVRs, with 87 percent saying they’d recommend their DVR service to a friend (they must not be Comcast subscribers).

So why isn’t TiVo, the name synonymous with DVR’ing, king of the world? Because of cable. Our friends at TV By the Numbers have been keeping track, and while cable offerings are attracting more than a million new DVR subscribers a month, TiVo is losing 50,000 subs a month.

And things won’t get any better once people can kick those bulky standalone set-top boxes for a network DVR.


Bill G

Dave, that 50k/month net subscriber loss is both their stand alone TiVo hardware and DirecTiVo units. Not sure why you’d call them “mothballed” if TiVo counts them as subscribers, they are paying for, and presumably using, the units.

At the end of July 2007 TiVo had 4.197m subs (1.708m were TiVo stand alone, rest DirecTiVo)

At the end of July 2008 TiVo had 3.623m subs
(1.686m were TiVo stand alone, rest DirecTiVo)

So while they lost 574,000 subs in a year, most were from DirecTV, only 22k net subscriber losses were there own boxes.

William Maggos

Tivo needs to become an Apple TV competitor. Open up the platform to support media RSS & Shoutcast Radio/TV & bittorrent. shouldnt be hard, since Tivo already runs Linux. befriend the community to become the device everyone in new media supports. one way is to advertise in video podcasts, but also advertise for the new open Tivo on oldteevee by explaining whats possible and include newteevee celebrities/shows in the ads. it seems like Tivo is perfectly positioned for this, with a high level of brand recognition. bring the public with you, as whats even better than pre-recorded TV is pre-downloaded TV. and since cable companies are already trying to kill you, fight back by showing consumers HD alternatives to cable available for free on the internet and easy to display on their new 40″ screen, if they just purchase your settop box.

Dave Zatz

Yep, the cable companies are entrenched. Good for them, bad for someone cracking that nut via retail. Wonder about the 50k/mo number though – at that rate, they’d be losing 1/3rd or so of their stand alone customers in a year. UNLESS that number includes the the mothballed DirecTV units. In which case it isn’t entirely representative – those units don’t do MPEG4 and many are SD-only.

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