TiVo has announced a “strategic relationship” with Frontier. And their first phase is quite unique. Whereas TiVo’s prior provider partnerships have exclusively powered cable television solutions, Frontier will be marketing the Roamio OTA to their Internet customers mid-year:
The new partnership will enable Frontier’s high-speed Internet customers to enjoy a consistent TV experience spanning major broadcast channels and over the top (OTT) content via TiVo’s unified cloud-based service, a whole-home gateway DVR, TiVo Mini, TiVo Stream. Multi-screen and remote scheduling functionality will be available through TiVo Web, iOS and Android mobile applications. Frontier customers with high-speed Internet service will enjoy an all-in-one DVR, a broad line-up of over-the-top applications, and a variety of top-tier streaming video services via a high-quality streaming solution.
While Frontier isn’t the first telco/cableco to
hedge go after cord cutters and cord nevers with video services (see Cox, Cablevision), they will be the first to offer an over-the-air DVR for subscribers to record broadcast programming, like NBC and CBS, in conjunction with online services like Netflix. With an established customer base, TiVo presumably expects fewer marketing challenges than moving DVRs thru retail along with Frontier obviously anticipating a new revenue stream. Pricing details haven’t yet been released, so we can’t provide a comparison to a retail-acquired Roamio that currently runs $50 for hardware, along with an ongoing $15 monthly fee. Irrespective of cost, install assistance, etc it’s a forward thinking approach… that may not move the needle much for either company – at least not in 2015. Enter the more compelling second phase of this relationship.
According to one source within TiVo, it’s expected that Frontier will ultimately make TiVo available to their FiOS TV customers… which will baloon to about 1.8 million in 2016 once Frontier takes posession of Verizon’s Florida, Texas, and California wireline businesses. And, if pitched as Frontier’s exclusive or premiere DVR, the implications of this deal become much larger for TiVo. (What will Engadget’s Tampa-based Ben Drawbaugh do?)
Speaking of FiOS, Verizon’s long term commitment to wireline may be in question as they continue to divest themselves of fiber markets. Further, it’s not clear if the facility in Texas that develops the FiOS TV experience transfers with the Frontier deal or is associated with NY/NJ management. Sadly, I couldn’t get anything on the record from Verizon a week or three back. Yet a source within the company suggests internal uncertainty surrounding how the company will bridge the gap between FiOS TV and it’s other expanding video iniatives. Which is why my thoughts take me to TiVo… Without a clear focus or commiment, especially should the R&D group move on, TiVo could be a compelling, cost effective, stop-gap, set-top solution for Verizon … until they figure out their next move.