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ReplayTV lives to replay another day (again)

August 2, 2011 |  4:20 pm

ReplayTV Logo Reports of the demise of ReplayTV, once again, have been greatly exaggerated -- or are at least premature.

D&M Holdings, the Japanese consumer electronics company that owns ReplayTV, said it would keep the digital video recording service alive, reversing an earlier announcement to kill the product.

Readers may wonder whether they've seen this movie before. They have: ReplayTV has averted death multiple times, often at the 11th hour.

The first ReplayTV was unveiled in 1999 at the Consumer Electronics Show, where it vied for attention with another hot product, TiVo. The first digital video recorders to hit the U.S. market, both ReplayTV and TiVo changed the way viewers watched television by allowing people to easily record TV shows to watch another time.

Though commonplace today, the technology presented a major threat to major television and cable broadcasters, who tried in 2001 to sue ReplayTV out of existence. The lawsuits forced ReplayTV's owner at the time, SonicBlue, to file for bankruptcy protection in 2003, the same year it was sold to D&M.

In 2005, D&M said it would cease to manufacture recording devices with the ReplayTV feature. But the service managed to live on as a feature on personal computers. In addition, a number of consumers continued to hang on to their ReplayTV devices, paying the $12.95 monthly fee for the service.

What appeared to be the final death knell for ReplayTV came in June, when D&M's U.S. subsidiary, Digital Networks North America Inc., said it would discontinue the service entirely after July 31.

But last Friday, the company, in a stay of execution, put up a notice on ReplayTV's home page, saying it will continue to provide the service after all. Here's an excerpt:

After the announced shutdown of the ReplayTV programming guide service, we have had many positive, enthusiastic comments about the ReplayTV DVR products and services. In light of this response, ReplayTV and its parent company Digital Networks North America, Inc. have decided to continue the electronic programming guide service.

It's unclear how many subscribers ReplayTV still has or how long D&M plans to continue the service. Messages sent to the company did not get an immediate response.

-- Alex Pham

Twitter/ @AlexPham