TiVo To Acquire “Aereo” (and their list of customers)

Dave Zatz —  February 27, 2015

aereo-tivo

Aereo, the innovative yet ultimately criminal television provider buried by the establishment, had an extremely poor showing in bankruptcy liquidation this week — netting a mere $2m. And, without TiVo’s participation, the numbers would have been halved. It appears the same, single source of unknown allegiance notified a number of outlets the details of TiVo’s haul includes both the Aereo name and customer list (which may not be all that impressive). As a TiVo spokesperson said yesterday, “We have OTA products and see some value in these assets.”

Indeed, since last summer, TiVo’s attempted to capitalize on Aereo’s buzz …and their demise. However, while we do believe there is a growing market of cord cutters interested in advanced television solutions, TiVo still isn’t Aereo – which had unmatched pricing and convenience with their decentralized and hardware-agnostic approach. Having said, that we can certainly envision a scenario where the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR ($50, $15/mo) becomes “Aereo by TiVo” … especially should they repackage it in something other than the reused base Roamio enclosure, which I assume is planned. But to more closely replicate Aereo’s Slingbox-esque functionality, they’ll need to directly integrate stream functionality to this hardware… or resume manufacturing the no-longer-available TiVo Stream accessory. And a Roku or Chromecast client wouldn’t hurt.

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22 responses to TiVo To Acquire “Aereo” (and their list of customers)

  1. If only Verizon’s brilliant legal team had been the one suing Aereo instead of the broadcast networks, it’d still live!

    —–

    Seems a very smart move by TiVo, considering the low cost. And Dave’s suggestions make excellent sense.

  2. I was considering Aereo but they never rolled out to my area. Ended up ponying up for a base Roamio with lifetime. Wife and I really like this as a cord-cutting option.

  3. I have noticed that the stand alone stream seems to be out of stock, but do you have any information that it has discontinued?

  4. I had heard from one source that Stream manufacturing had ceased. I heard second hand from another source that inventory was expected to return. These two things are not neccessarily in conflict, but I prioritize my source in conjunction with the current lack of availability. As of today, one can only acquire a used and/or highly marked up Stream and not from TiVo nor Best Buy.

  5. TiVo spoke about hardware inventory constraints during recent investor calls. I’m relatively confident that we are seeing an inventory constraint with respect to the Stream and it will be back in stock in the coming weeks. I’m not sure if the inventory constrain relates to the Zenview part that does the transcoding or other parts that feed their Mexican manufacturing facility. Nevertheless, it does seem like a good idea to launch a new TiVo OTA that includes Stream functionality but I suspect the hardware cost per box makes the $49.99 price difficult from an ROI perspective.

  6. So $1 million for under 80K customer names and the name Aereo? Am I missing something?

  7. Eh, it’s low risk in the scheme of things and a smarter gamble than whatever large sum they blew on a year of Tebow representation (along with related advertising production and distribution costs). Yeah, they probably overpaid, but the move shows a little more spunk and resourcefulness than we’ve seen out of them lately. I can dig it.

  8. It makes sense in that TiVo has the cash and really needs to tout an INCREASE in retail TiVo’s. The news/report of even a fair number of new subs for the retail TiVo’s will boost TiVo’s stock price and generate positive articles in the main stream and industry press. The million dollar price tag for it will get lost in the hoopla of increase retail TiVo subscribers while Wall Street gives TiVo a good day. In that sense, TiVo gets more than we might think for its purchase of certain Aereo assets, and those with emotional ties to Aereo can feel emotionally re-attached to an “Aereo by TiVo” product, even if it is not quite the tech Aereo was. But, I think it is far more about Wall Street and up numbers for retail.

  9. Jakub Kudlacz March 1, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    If TIVO is talking to SONY and decideds to add Vue service or something similar then this would make OTA unit more compelling, to be honest OTA would be awesome if it came with LIFETIME subscription for $299 -$399 range.

  10. Weaknees has lowered the Stream’s price to MSRP of $129.99 and obviously as stock. Will see if/when others follow.

    http://www.weaknees.com/tivo-stream.php

  11. I know this thread is aging, but I would to Jakub’s thoughts and say that adding SlingTV to the TiVo OTA list of OTT services (NOT to the other Roamio models that must live in the cable co universe for obvious reasons) would be a tremendous feature for TiVo and a big boost for SlingTV. Imagine, “you can now view some of the most popular cable channels on your TiVo OTA!”

    The fact that Dish owns the SlingTV product would not be a problem because Dish, and the media companies providing the channels, don’t see SlingTV as competing with traditional cable/sat service (something Charlie Ergan said he had a heck of a time persuading the media companies participating in SlingTV to understand), rather, SlingTV is a service for “Mellinials,” “Cord-cutters,” and “Cord-nevers,” or people who were NEVER (or never again) going to subscribe to traditional cable/sat, but they overwhelmingly were willing to pay for ESPN and a few channels. In that sense, SlingTV is “agnostic” and they don’t view this as a threat to Dish or traditional cable/sat. Instead, they believe that SlingTV is serving an “untapped” market, and each (Dish and the media companies) will make MORE money by offering two different kinds of services.

    The only impediment to this SlingTV on TiVo OTA is TiVo’s pricey monthly fee for the OTA with no value Lifetime of some sort (gotta be lower priced Lifetime for TiVo OTA to make sense) to subscribers. Oh, well, one can dream. It would make a perfect match.

  12. Well, crap. Seeking Alpha went down so I can’t directly quote the quarterly call transcript at the moment. But TiVo CEO Tom Rogers pretty much confirmed what I’ve speculated upon a few times… they’re most likely evaluating lower cost (for them) OTA hardware. You can rest assured it’ll also be smaller, as the base Roamio was designed around CableCARD tuning. Would be real nice if they figured out how to get streaming built in — but that’d significantly change the BOM and would require a much greater subsidy or higher prices. I’ll post some quotes when the site returns.

  13. Seeking Alpha and the transcript is back up, here’s some quotes:

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/2970756-tivo-tivo-tom-s-rogers-on-q4-2015-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single

    There are a number of things that we believe that an OTA opportunity can give us by way of hardware reduction. They go to issues of innovation that I don’t necessarily want to discuss now but the most obvious is the no need for a cable card and the apparatus within the box that require a cable card for an OTA box versus a traditional box.

    […]

    So we’re just learning about the elements of the OTA subscriber and where the OTA recording capability part of that meets the over-the-top issues and the notion of streaming to other devices and what other elements are most important to an OTA sub.

  14. “Would be real nice if they figured out how to get streaming built in — but that’s significantly change the BOM and require a much greater subsidy or higher prices.”

    Streaming seems like such a no-brainer for an “Aereo-like” solution that I can’t see how they can avoid it.

    Either it’s a default, there are two models, or a separate Stream remains available. Personally, I’d go for the default, and just deal with the higher up-front cost. Save money by having one SKU, and avoid having a more expensive external device. How much can the streaming silicon cost them on the BOM? Fifty bucks seem generous to me, no?

  15. The tenor of the call, in relation to say lowering Mini pricing to make folks happy and potentially expand their footprint despite smaller ARPU, represents the sort of thinking that would support getting streaming in there one way or another. Could be killer… especially with a Sling TV app and a Roku endpoint in the mix.

    For comparative purposes, the headless two-tuner Tablo runs about $200 upfront and $5/mo – you supply your own client hardware (like Roku) and a drive for the recordings. Also, MSRP on the original stand alone TiVo Stream (when it’s been available) is $130.

    By the by, there were 9 references to Aereo and a whopping 29 to OTA in the prepared remarks and Q&A…

  16. “Also, MSRP on the original stand alone TiVo Stream (when it’s been available) is $130.”

    Right. So let’s say the original BOM on the Stream was somewhere around $80. Now, between time reducing the cost of the silicon, and the truly not-insignificant cost-savings of putting the silicon on the motherboard, instead of in a separate enclosure with all the additional costs that brings, the addition to the BOM of default streaming can’t be too drastic.

    Still guessing $50 is an upper bound…

    (And again, if they want to make a positive publicity splash with this, they don’t have any choice but to find a way to include streaming. Default streaming certainly seems the way to ensure the best publicity.)

    “Could be killer… especially with a Sling TV app and a Roku endpoint in the mix.”

    Those would definitely be nice and welcome. But mobile is most definitely the killer app here.

  17. Sling TV is less important if TiVo gets their own Roku client… ;)

    I believe both the Roamio Pro/Plus and Stream can transcode and move four separate streams and the Zenverge chip(s) they started with are a couple years old at this point. Looks like Tablo is using Vixs – a company Slingbox leveraged for a few models. As to exact dollar figures, I’m too far removed at this point to guess on a number. But if TiVo keeps the $15/mo in play, whatever the cost they can float it … if they’re willing to.

  18. “Sling TV is less important if they get TiVo gets their own Roku client…”

    Ya think?

    But my point remains: Lean-back MRV is far secondary in a product like this to mobile streaming. It’s not unimportant. But it’s just not the main course.

  19. I think the Aereo brand implied that the reception would be perfect regardless of the customer’s geographic location. Tivo isn’t going to be able to provide the same level of service that Aereo could provide.

  20. “I think the Aereo brand implied that the reception would be perfect regardless of the customer’s geographic location. Tivo isn’t going to be able to provide the same level of service that Aereo could provide.”

    No problem. TiVo can set up fields of individual micro-antennas and run a cloud DVR to replicate the Aereo service. Issue solved!

  21. “Could be killer… especially with a Sling TV app and a Roku endpoint in the mix.”

    But let’s not quibble about the small stuff. I fully agree with my fellow Old Apple Gangster Jason Snell, whom I think similarly about UX with, that TiVo has reached its potential with the S5.

    But Jesus Christ. How the hell can’t they make available a premium Glo remote with this generation like all the all the others? Seriously. What the hell?

    Isn’t there some FCC petition we can all sign?

  22. Done deal:
    http://investor.tivo.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=106292&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2025572

    This strategic acquisition of Aereo’s trademarks and customer lists will enhance our ability to serve the growing segment of consumers who want access to both broadcast television and over the top content.