TiVo software leaves the DVR, tries Insignia TVs

Still losing DVR subscribers, TiVo is trying something new by getting its software onto Best Buy’s Insignia televisions.

A press release from both companies, posted to Engadget HD, only says that “development is underway” on bringing the software to Best Buy’s in-house TV brand, providing access to Web services such as Netflix and YouTube, and on demand video from Amazon. No time frame was given, but it does seem that all Insignia TVs will get TiVo software.

Lately, TiVo has tried to market itself as “more than a DVR.” That’s probably because the DVR units from cable companies are eating into TiVo’s business. According to the company’s recent SEC filings, subscriptions are down by roughly 200,000 year-over-year, and cancellation rates are up.

TiVo software leaves the DVR, tries Insignia TVs

TiVo has partially blamed an input method that in some markets hinders the device’s ability to control TV signals, but the more obvious reason is that TiVo requires $300 or $500 up front for the hardware, plus $13 per month for a subscription. Unless TiVo pushes its Web and on demand video services, there’s not much to differentiate itself from cable DVR, which can be leased for roughly the same monthly cost. Moving off the DVR is a bold, but necessary move to stay relevant.

Alas, TiVo may find itself beaten even as it moves away from cable. Insignia isn’t the only brand to offer Web-connected televisions — others include Samsung, LG and Vizio — and a new threat looms in the form of Google TV, which aims to perfect the Web TV formula while partnering with Sony, Logitech and the Dish network. At least the TiVo brand is strong, and Insignia has good floor space in the United States’ largest consumer electronics chain.

One thing’s puzzling, though: Best Buy also plans to launch its own on-demand movie service, to appear in Insignia televisions. Will this become a part of TiVo’s selection, or will competing services from Blockbuster and Amazon get the boot?