In Depth

Not Boxed In: Jim Denney

The player: Jim Denney, VP of product marketing at TiVo

The play: Mr. Denney spearheaded the digital video recorder maker’s three-year effort to make a machine that can record high-definition content. TiVo, which has about 4 million subscribers, released TiVo HD in August. The set-top box, which retails for $299, helped TiVo cut its fourth-quarter loss by 67% and beat financial analysts’ estimates for revenue, which was expected to fall after U.S. satellite leader DirecTV discontinued its licensing agreement.

The pitch
: TiVo HD, which the company developed by adding more storage and processing power to its standard machine, can store either 20 hours of HD content or 180 hours of standard-definition content. With a 500-gigabyte hard drive attached, the machine’s storage capability for HD programming is boosted by another 50 hours, Mr. Denney said. This year, “TiVo HD has become our main stock-keeping unit in retail,” said Mr. Denney, who declined to disclose specific sales or a percentage of units sold. With HDTVs accounting for about 90% of new televisions, “Certainly HD becomes more of the de facto,” Mr. Denney said.

The challenges: Unbox, the content-downloading service TiVo started with Internet retail leader last year, can’t process HD content, though the companies will announce HD capabilities “in the not too distant future,” Mr. Denney said. Additionally, HD content availability is limited for cable subscribers by bandwidth constraints, an issue Mr. Denney said cable companies are in the process of solving.

Blu-ray’s victory: Denney views Blu-ray and TiVo HD as “complementary” because customers use Blu-ray machines for movies while TiVo users primarily record television shows. “You’ll see a mix and match of different HD formats and consumption experiences,” Mr. Denney said.

Backstory: Mr. Denney, 42, joined TiVo about four years ago after helping develop streaming-media products for iBEAM Broadcasting, which has since been acquired by WilTel Communications. Before he joined iBEAM, Mr. Denney was a 3-D animator for Silicon Graphics and also had worked for Andersen Consulting. Based in Burlingame, Calif., Mr. Denney was raised in Harvey, Ill., near Chicago, and has a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University.