TiVo CMO Ira Bahr Speaks (and you should listen)

tivo-hatBeyond TiVo VP Margret Schmidt operating well out of her lane to periodically chime in on the TiVo Community Forum, the site that TiVo once bankrolled hasn’t seen much company participation in recent years. That changed today with a marathon QA session handled by TiVo Chief Marketing Officer Ira Bahr. I appreciate his frank engagement with the community and his message (even if the Investor Relations group may not).

Ira provides quite a bit of insight into their market strategy with Bolt and intention to keep the hardcore happy with a more suitable product offering next year. I still think the Bolt has an uphill battle, as currently presented… but perhaps there’s time to deliver a more economical cord cutter-centric “Aereo Edition” this year or flip up pricing should they receive the lukewarm response I expect.

A sampling of the good stuff, chopped up and reassembled:

[…] the Bolt product was not really designed for the TiVo enthusiast. […] Bolt is low on Tuners, light on storage, doesn’t fit into your racks and really doesn’t offer this group much more than 4K and software features you figure we’ll roll-down anyway. […] There will be no Pro line product that has any fewer than 6 tuners or storage sizes that don’t excite you. We probably could’ve delivered a BOLT with two more tuners and a larger HDD and called it a family, but we knew that the market–and especially our loyalists–deserved much more. […] we already have a roadmap plan to bring you something you’ll like way better in 2016.

“What is the timeline for releasing a 4k capable Mini?” “Looking at next year”

The Fire TV app is expected to launch NEXT WEEK, and it will work both in and out of the home. At this time we are supporting recorded content, but as you know as soon as you start recording live content on your DVR you’ll be able access it within your MyShows folder.

19 thoughts on “TiVo CMO Ira Bahr Speaks (and you should listen)”

  1. Also… no hardware limitations for commercial skip coming to Roamio. It just isn’t planned at this time – but subject to reevaluation. I imagine most of us would prefer that to 1.3x playback. Then again, does enabling it diminish the value of Bolt and whatever is being worked on for the rest of us?

  2. I’m really looking forward to the 1.3x playback. It was the one feature on Windows Media Center that I found I really liked.

    Watching news programs especially was good at high speed. I was able to get the content without spending the full amount of time.An interesting question will be if you hit skip 30 seconds while running at speed, will it resume at 1.3x or 1x.


  3. Apparently an OTA-only Bolt is still expected to roll out before the end of this year, although it may or may not be named “Aereo Edition,” according to Mr. Bahr. I wonder if the biggest reason they chose not to unveil it a couple days ago was that it had no Hulu app? An updated compatible Hulu app is apparently expected to arrive this year.

    I’ll be very interested in seeing how this product is priced. If the box with first year of service is priced in the $150 to $175 range and then subsequent service can be had for $10 per month with no contract, perhaps it can gain some traction. More than $10 per month, I believe, is just too much to expect cord cutters to pay for DVR functionality on a few channels plus OnePass that integrates a few but not all popular streaming apps.

    I still find it odd that, at this point in the cord cutter trend, no one else has produced a compelling device that somehow smartly integrates live free OTA TV with OTT streaming sources. Given that those are the two video sources for cord cutters, it just seems like such a natural problem to solve. Even if there were no DVR but just a great UI for OTA TV with guide data and OnePass-like integration with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Showtime, Sling TV, CBS All Access, Crackle, etc. Seems like a no-brainer product that Roku could deliver and even charge a few bucks per month for ongoing service. Maybe in 2016.

  4. Given the reception amongst folks who knew what Aereo was, the possibility of perhaps watering down their own brand, not to mention it’s the same Bolt form factor, I’m wondering if “TiVo Bolt OTA” is the better approach. Beyond anything technical, rethinking branding at this point in the development process would also slow them – possibly significantly. He could have also been somewhat cagey on the name as to not spill the beans as they’ll have press to brief under NDA and such, when the time comes. Wonder if it’ll be an online only offering or if they’ll still manage to get it into Best Buy. Speaking of, I assume Roku 4 is being introduced next week. I’ve got feelers out, but zero intel beyond what we already know.

    Regarding fees, TiVo’s prior marketing group indicated the $10 OTA-only service plan/promo a few years back did relatively well. Wonder if they’d reconsider. Or perhaps two tiers of service. Although that could get real messy, real fast. Remember when we had TiVo Basic and when Home Media Option of photos and music was a $100 add-on?

  5. I definitely appreciated his replies, and hope he considers doing it again. I must say TCF seemed very well behaved compared to how they have treated TiVo employees in the past.

  6. Hopefully that 4K mini has 802.11ac.

    Though I’m still thinking the Roamio I have now will be my last TiVo simply because I’m sick of this cablecard garbage. I’ll either cut the cable TV or I’ll replace this TiVo with some other DVR or a TiVo that uses downloadable security. On the minimal chance Last-CenturyLink ever gets fiber to my house (despite living in a 1-gig city) I might switch to that.

  7. Anrhony

    Just curious about a few things.

    1. What “TiVo that uses downloadable security” are you talking about?
    2. What about cablecards are you “sick” about? I’ve found once installed……well….done. What makes you sick about them?
    2. What other DVR would you want to switch to? I’ve found cable DVR’s are EXTREMELY expensive compared to TiVo’s. Currently the Twin Cities DVR’s are $22/month.

  8. I think we also have our answer on Bolt’s missing out of home streaming. Roamio and Stream use a Zenverge chip, whereas Bolt has a different Broadcom chip … with integrated transcoding — which obviously requires new integration. Also related to streaming, sounds like they’ll continue to work on things (like removing that Alviso proxy) to improve performance.

  9. I know this was a talk with enthusiasts, but it comes off a bit as “don’t look at the crap products we just released, we got something MUCH better coming next year”. If that’s the case, not sure I get the reasons for releasing this product for only an entry level crowd, but with more premium pricing than they have ever had before… I didn’t pay as much for my Roamio Plus that I got 2 years ago which was the mid-to-high tier system, and I have been a loyal TiVo user since 2001, owning all models (except for TiVo HD, as I had a series 3 that just looked better). So if I think pricing is out of whack, like most of the community, then how does Joe Average view this expensive Bolt as a worthy investment? If people didn’t buy the last couple of series of TiVo for less $$, how does this entice them?

  10. Hey Dave
    So would the new tivo bolt since it has transcoding work like a slingbox? You could stream to any device, Don’t need to be on wifi, could be use with mobile data?

  11. Dave, both the Roamio Pro/Plus and the new Bolt transcode recordings and pseudo-live TV for streaming like a Slingbox … but without the whole IR blaster thing. Roamio Pro/Plus streams both in the home and remotely. At launch, Bolt is in-home only. There are clients for iOS and Android along with desktop browser (and Fire TV obviously arriving next week). Beyond streaming, TiVo also lets you download those recordings for offline viewing. I believe cellular streaming still isn’t turned on in iOS, but it is available in Android.

  12. I find it odd that SkipMode would not be coming to Roamio monthly subs at a minimum, because they are paying the same freight that Bolt customers are. I get that they’re trying to force new customers for Bolt here, but it’s really a disservice to existing paying customers.

  13. I agree, slowbiscuit… Especially in light of the comments from TiVo that this Bolt is not for TiVo Community, but for new users…then why not offer Skip to us on Roamio, if there is no expectation that we would jump to Bolt. If we aren’t being enticed to Bolt with those couple of minor features, then give them to us loyal fans now. Then you can hit with a Pro level model series 6 in 2016 with “blow your socks off” features, and if they provide a good value to hard core fans and enthusiasts, we will jump on board like we have for the other prior series.

  14. I would love to see an xbox one client app too. If TIVO starts supporting streaming to other devices, I may buy the Bolt. (Or the better ‘pro’ model next year).
    Is there a limitation to how many devices can stream recorded content at a time?

  15. Hey Dave, apropos the no-SkipMode-on-Roamio issue raised above, is there any past recent history of TiVo doing something like this, i.e. introducing a major new non-hardware-based feature only in their new hardware and not extending it back at least to the immediately preceding generation hardware? Of course I get why Roamio can’t have UHD streaming apps since the processor in the Roamio doesn’t support that. But for folks who recently bought a Roamio and are paying their monthly service fees, not getting SkipMode sorta stings.

  16. Possibly.. When Roamio was originally released they didn’t plan to port the UI changes back to Premiere. Pressure from cable partner RCN, who wanted a unified experience, may have led to a change in approach. Given things like the incomplete HDUI after all these years, I assume TiVo is understaffed in the development department with a whole lot of competing priorities on their plate. With only 150,000 retail activations in the last fiscal year vs millions via cable partners, this (initial) decision was probably more about prioritizing cycles than anything else. Hopefully they reconsider.

  17. Since the Bolt led to the summer sale on refurbs and I picked up a Roamio + lifetime for $200 to replace a dead S3, I’d say the Bolt was a great product for this “enthusiast”. ;-)

  18. I assume that the TiVo Fire TV client app (and future client apps for Roku etc) will work the same way as the TiVo phone/tablet client apps, where the TiVo DVR will perform real-time video format transcoding? So when the Bolt eventually supports 2 transcoded streams (in and out of the home), we will be able to play on 2 phones, 2 FTV’s, or 1 phone and 1 FTV at the same time?

    If so, I wonder why the FTV client app can only stream recorded content, whereas the phone/tablet apps can also stream (pseudo) live TV?

Comments are closed.