The TiVo Cord Cutter Solution That Never Was

Dave Zatz —  May 18, 2017 — 13 Comments

When TiVo opened their CMS search to all a few weeks back, they left behind traces of an alternate timeline… one where the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition actually made it to launch. And, fortunately for us, an astute reader ferreted out and preserved the details. First glimpsed in August of 2015, the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition was to be the Roamio OTA of the Bolt era — effectively the same generation of DVR hardware, minus a PCMCIA CableCARD apparatus. So whereas the Bolt is largely marketed at cable customers dissatisfied with their provider’s hardware offering, the 500GB Aereo Edition was to target cord cutters as an OTA antenna-only offering — clocking in at a lower $99.99 price point. As of October 2015, TiVo was still intent upon launching the TiVo Bolt Aereo Edition, although “Aereo” branding was still in play. I didn’t give it much thought when TiVo’s 2015 “end of year” prediction failed to materialize given their development track record. But after the Roamio OTA resurgence last spring and Mavrik’s unveiling last fall, it seemed likely that the Bolt Aereo Edition had been scrapped in favor of a more Tablo-esque solution and perhaps due to not enough differentiation between the two Bolt models, as the CableCARD model also handles OTA signals.

13 responses to The TiVo Cord Cutter Solution That Never Was

  1. TiVo Mega never launched either… lots of indecision over there.

  2. John Garrison May 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Yes, the Roger’s Tivo era was a mess. Lawsuits, failed products never making it to market, etc. Hope that new Rovi management really wants keep making improvements.

    John

  3. To be fair, I couldn’t blame Tivo for the lawsuits. They were just protecting their patents.

  4. Is it me or when looking at the picture and reading the post I keep replacing the word “Aereo” with “Oreo”

  5. Patrick gaffney May 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Over on TiVos Facebook page they are talking about a sports bar mode to watch four games at once. And they are saying it has been around since 2005. Any idea what that is?

  6. Dave, I wonder if a year or so from now you’ll be doing a similar write-up on the Mavrik, as a product TiVo designed but never ended up bringing to market. Any news on what’s going on there? Maybe, now that Rovi leadership has settled in after the merger, they’ve decided to kill the Mavrik and do away with any new TiVo-branded retail hardware?

  7. It was most likely cancelled because of cost. It would cost the same to manufacture as a regular Bolt, but TiVo would have had to sell it for less than a regular Bolt.

  8. The Bolt OTA worked great and had all the same features and hardware that the Bolt did except the removal of the PCMCIA CableCARD reader so yes I am guessing they decided to not release it due to costs concerns and price sensitivity of many OTA users.

    For the OTA users who wanted the Series 6 hardware/features the Bolt wouldn’t end up costing much more than a Bolt OTA would have and for those OTA users that were more price sensitive the $399 Roamio OTA with lifetime deal fit the bill.

    I always thought they had the colors wrong the Black and white version should have been for the Bolt (OTA & Cable) with the Black version being the cable only Bolt+ and the white version being a OTA only Bolt.

  9. TV Streamer, atmusky, Bill of materials may not be the primary motivation given TiVo’s ongoing service fees that have historically subsidized a decent amount of hardware (and they do get a cut of online streaming subscriptions, sell viewer behavior data, and run a small amount of advertising). Also similar same scenario would have applied to Roamio vs Roamio OTA, but Bolt specs are obviously way better. Speaking of, when Bolt was announced, we were informed that Roamio was EOL — so they clearly changed plans by keeping it around (and increasing its storage, no less), which could actually indicate hardware expense is a consideration. But I do feel like someone told me or I read there wasn’t enough differentiation, so they were shifting gears.

    Tim, yep. Given TiVo’s track record and the uncertainty that comes from a merger (usually played out 12-18 months after acquisition), anything or nothing at all is possible. I wouldn’t have been surprised if retail hardware was done. However, I’m working on something that suggests otherwise… :)

  10. Actually “to be fair” TiVo’s decision to sue everyone except those who were willing to talk to them about doing a deal, was a business practice not protecting its patents. Instead, the phrase “to be fair” could be applied to the fact that Tom Rogers path of filing lawsuits and getting settlements took TiVo from the brink of death to surviving for a number of years until it finally was purchased by Rovi. Of course, it was survival mode for TiVo all these recent years as we all knew the inevitable: the sunset and the swan song, now closer than ever.

  11. And it was the right business practice.

  12. Unfortunately, during the earlier, Premiere-era patent suit/licensing days, the TiVo experience languished (as alluded to by the company) – they just couldn’t (maybe still can’t) effectively multitask and made some questionable decisions (or lack thereof) of how to spend that nearly $1b windfall — expanding the software development staff seemed like a no-brainer…

  13. I’m glad that they scrapped the Bolt OTA/Aereo, as it would have been an inferior product to the Roamio OTA. The tuners in the Bolt have been shown to not be as sensitive as those in the Roamio OTA. For whatever reason, the Series 3 had good tuners, the Premiere didn’t, the Roamio does, and the Bolt doesn’t. So except for the built-in streaming, the Roamio OTA does everything that the Bolt Aereo Edition would have, except that it just works better at being an *OTA* DVR.

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