At one point, it seemed a Series 6 TiVo might be off the table. Yet, given my perception of minimal MSO interest in their network DVR and often anemic specs from hardware set-top partners, TiVo regrouped to begin developing a 4k reference design … that was initially unveiled (behind closed doors) back in September at IBC. Indeed, TiVo’s go-to chip supplier Broadcom announced that they’d selected the high-end, quad-core BCM7445 to power an Ultra HD STB. And, just last week at CES 2015, once again privately demoed at least one 4k solution – where TiVo Vice President Jim Denney provided Fierice Wireless a glimpse into the company’s thought process:
I can speak to it philosophically. When we look at 4K, we look at what 3D TVs did, and what HDTV did. Those are kind of the three major pushes that the CE has made in the last 10 years. I definitely think 4K is closer to HD than it is to 3D in terms of consumer value and eventual consumer demand. I think it’s still early in the curve, so you’ll see some people who are early adopters, and you’ll see some people who are going to kind of hang back. It’s one of those things that in order to really take advantage of it, you’re going to have to notch up the content space, the distribution technologies and the end points, at the same time. So it’s going to take a lot of coordination to make 4K really take off.
Along those lines, the current crop of 4k gear is pricey and TiVo in general may have some difficulty pitching their solution given the comparative costs. Yeah, MSO churn is lower with TiVo but that has to be balanced against the upfront and ongoing costs (perhaps reinforced by those who believe KDG chose Cisco over TiVo in Germany for that very reason). With that in mind, we expect TiVo would also be evaluating the dual-core Broadcom BCM7449 and BCM7252S which likewise provides transcoding and 4k, but clocks in at a lower price point than the BCM7445. As to when a UHD TiVo Series 6 might hit, we can’t predict MSO interest or retail availability – but given possibly slow MSO Roamio uptake (again, due to price), a dearth of 4k content, along with ongoing CableCARD replacement uncertainty and negotiation, it could be awhile. But I do think it’s quite possible we’ll ultimately see a smaller, cheaper (to produce) Roamio OTA in 2015 as TiVo simultaneously goes after the cord cutting crowd.