TiVo’s been telegraphing this move for nearly a year, not to mention a few good leaks, so it should come as no surprise that they’re (sort of) announcing the components of their whole home DVR solution: a quad-tuner TiVo “Premiere Q” and the non-DVR “TiVo Preview.” However, the reason I say sort of is that the news comes from a single source and hasn’t been corroborated anywhere else. Yet, it all sounds legit. And we know The Cable Show gets going in Chicago this week. So it’s most likely a case of premature coverage, rather than a forgery of some sort.
TiVo Premiere Q is the company’s first quad-tuner gateway set-top box, a higher-end option than its flagship Premiere dual-tuner digital video recorder. In addition, TiVo is rolling out Preview, its first non-DVR HD set-top box. RCN will be the first U.S. cable operator to offer subscribers the Premiere Q and Preview, in addition to its current TiVo Premiere offering, later this year. Suddenlink Communications also expects to offer the new boxes at some point.
The story goes on to say these new units stream content box-to-box locally via MoCA, versus the retail Premiere’s traditional wired or wireless networking. Again, no surprises.
The only unanswered question, and it’s a biggie, is will these boxes ever be made available to retail customers rather than through a cable provider like RCN? I suspect retail TiVo Premiere sales are poor, and certainly subscriber numbers continue to decline. I doubt a higher end, more costly quad tuning unit would find additional success at Best Buy. On the other hand, an online only offering is a less costly proposition for getting this into retail and perhaps it’d energize the base. Who in turn would promote TiVo amongst their peers. Likewise, if TiVo can figure out how to market the cable-tuning, Premiere-streaming Preview box and without crippling it with an out of line monthly service charge, it’d be a solid online offering to excite the hardcore and start building that halo. I’m not sure TiVo even knows what they’re prepared to do at this point, but it’s clearly on their mind. They still have a few months to finalize a plan (should there be one) to get in on the lucrative holiday shopping season…