TiVo is in talks to be acquired by Rovi, the maker of TV program guides, according to The New York Times' DealBook. The talks are said to be "advanced," but could still fall through.
There's a powerful patent portfolio between them
The acquisition appears to be primarily about patents. While TiVo and Rovi both make real products that real people actually use, neither of them make most of their money that way. Most of TiVo's revenue comes from licensing patents — its Time Warp patent, which covers fast forwarding through TV, is particularly notable — as does most of Rovi's revenue, according to DealBook. Combined, they might be a more effective force in TV interface patent holdings. Between them is a combined 6,000 issued and pending patents, according to the report.
A buyout might be appealing to TiVo right now, as it's in a period of uncertainty and transition. Its consumer business has long been under fire from both the cable and tech industry, and even its patent-licensing business is at risk. The Time Warp patent expires in 2018, and it's not clear how effective other key patents in its portfolio will be — TiVo is currently suing Samsung to find out. TiVo has also been without a CEO since November.