TiVo To Bring Live Television and DVR Recordings to Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV

At long last, TiVo is publicly committing to a soft client streamer apps for retail DVRs, such as the newly released Bolt OTA. So instead of investing in a TiVo Mini at each television, we can leverage our existing Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku boxes to receive both live television and DVR-ed content. Unlike the DISH “Virtual Joey” non-starter that was set to run $7/mo, TiVo intends to charge no fees — like the headless Tablo DVR, that provides apps for a number of platforms, fee-free.

No, the TiVo Mini isn’t going away. These apps are merely another option for secondary sets or those on a tighter budget. Of course, there will be something of a trade-off in terms of transcoded AV quality and more variable network conditions, along with giving up 5.1 audio and SkipMode commercial avoidance. However, the flexibility will be well worth it for many… including the ability to simply attach a Roku Stick or Fire TV Stick to the hotel television for our content on-the-go — and, trust me, that’ll go along way to keeping my toddler comfortable when away from home.

The apps are scheduled for a Q2/Q3 launch, with the Android-powered Fire TV client hitting first and Apple TV bringing up the rear.

70 thoughts on “TiVo To Bring Live Television and DVR Recordings to Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV”

  1. I just bought a new Tivo Mini Vox. Are they just killing those Mini boxes with this free software solution?

  2. Sold, this is great news. When this thing launches I am selling my last Tivo Mini, probably with every other person that owns a Tivo Mini lol.

  3. I also saw on the TiVo IFTTT Facebook group that they are showing a Tivo branded WiFi bridge that works via USB at CES.

  4. @John well I bet that some features won’t be available in Tivo App, you won’t have access to On Demand (we will loose Xfinity content access), no Parental Controls, and no Quick Mode just to mention few. If Skip mode is there then I think we will manage.

  5. Matt, I’ve got a pic of the wireless bridge. Will get to at some point. And that should reassure John that the Mini is going nowhere.

    Jakub, I assume we’ll lose some functionality (like 5.1?). I’ve got questions into TiVo VP Ted Malone and will continue to feed him more, as they arise.

  6. I was literally planning to ditch Tivo for Tablo after the Tablo announcement of commercial skip. Way to go TiVo for doing the one thing that will keep me around!

  7. The software in the app is Hydra-based, I wonder if this could connect to a TiVo still running TE3? And what video quality is being sent through, does live TV or recordings in 1080i come through?

  8. This is intriguing news…but functionality will like mirror the mobile app, which is missing things like the glorious Skip button. However, a $30 Roku beats a $150 Mini any day of the week.

  9. Does it, though? I’ve definitely gotten $120 of appreciation out of the Skip button. I’d be very sad to lose it. I’m glad to see TiVo finally announce these apps and I sincerely hope they’re not too crippled in comparison.

  10. So … would I need an actual Tivo box to use this, or just an account? Where does it get recordings from? Are there no “recordings” any more?

  11. @Betsy yes, this is the most important feature. ‘we’re going to leverage our existing Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku boxes to receive live television and DVR-ed content.’ this is quote from the article LIVE TELEVISION AND DVR-ED CONTENT. If Tivo includes SKIP option that would be awesome but even without it this is still great.

  12. @John Fischetti — these are most likely transcoded app clients like the iOS based client rather than playing the actual saved media that the Minis play so are most likely lower quality. I think that the Bolts only have a single transcoder while the Roamio’s have 2, so that would limit you to one or 2 soft clients vs (possibly) unlimited number of Mini clients. I’d be happy if I were wrong, but I think I read that.

  13. @Janet you will need at least 1 Tivo DVR Box. But if you have multiple TVs in your home, you could easily expand your whole home by adding Amazon Fire TV Stick for $29 when on sale. We already have 2 of those and Apple TV and most people already have bunch of similar devices.

  14. I just bought a new Tivo Mini Vox. Are they just killing those Mini boxes with this free software solution?

    These streaming box apps will be leveraging the transcoding available in the BOLT series (and likely the Roamio Plus/Pro and TiVo Stream), so the number of concurrent streams will be limited in the same way that mobile streaming currently is:

    BOLT … max of 2 streams
    Roamio Plus|Pro or TiVo Stream … max of 4 streams

    I expect there will also be sufficient functionality differences to keep the Minis relevant, as well.

  15. By the by, this isn’t the first time TiVo has demo-ed soft clients… however, those were in relation to the IPTV network DVR for telecom and cable partners. This is a first for retail and way more modern than that first Roku presentation.


    Yes, these apps won’t be as full featured or provide as high quality audio/video as a Mini. But they will be sufficient for many, especially in secondary locations. Thinking bigger picture (acquiring new customers versus just keeping us old timers happy), I think they’ll look real good compared to Tablo and HDHomeRun network tuners which are something of a conceptual leap. Amazon has a slight edge over those since they can market all day, all night – lots of eyeballs on Amazon’s site.

  16. I would absolutely love to be able to play shows from my TiVo in the living room on my TV in the bedroom again! Used to be able to do that when I had two working TiVo units.

    For those worried about the missing Skip button, maybe the app will support it in software?

    My concern: will I be able to stream “copy-protected” shows from my TiVo to my Apple TV?

  17. Had they gone this way three years ago, they might have kept me as a customer. As it was, I decided to set up a Plex server with a Homerun receiver and a premium account. Couldn’t be happier — great DVR, no monthly payments, and as many TVs as I want.

  18. My concern: will I be able to stream “copy-protected” shows from my TiVo to my Apple TV?

    If these apps mirror the mobile apps, yes, so long as the streaming box is on the home network with the source DVR.

  19. I think that the Bolts only have a single transcoder while the Roamio’s have 2, so that would limit you to one or 2 soft clients vs (possibly) unlimited number of Mini clients

    Mobile client limits, and so likely the same limits for these streaming apps…

    BOLT :: 2 in-home streams max
    Roamio Plus|Pro or TiVo Stream :: 4 in-home streams max

  20. Any idea/further word on how a TiVo Mini/wireless dongle experience would compare to the Roku/Fire TV/Apple TV TiVo app approach? I’m wondering, would this advise considering the return of a recently-purchased Mini VOX box, from December holiday promotions–or might the breakdown be, if you’re a TiVo “old-timer” who wants the best of experiences for a primary location, the Mini VOX still may be the way to go, but if you’re looking for a secondary location where you have a lesser concern, the TiVo app approach may serve your needs?

    And, any further word on the TiVo Mini wireless dongle itself, including possible pricing?

  21. > When this thing launches I am selling my last Tivo Mini, probably with every other person that owns a Tivo Mini lol.

    One big advantage (IMO) of having a TiVo Mini over one a Roku/FireTV/etc. is that a TiVo Mini uses physical TiVo remote control. That alone would make the user experience for watching live TV and recordings nicer than with a third-party streaming device.

    I think I’ll be keeping my TiVo Minis on my main TVs. (I certainly will appreciate the ability to use other streaming devices as additional extenders, though.)

  22. Now if they would only develop a TiVo app for the older/other TiVo’s, then we could repurpose our old TiVo’s to act as TiVo mini’s, or streaming clients.

  23. @Tariq it makes no sense for Tivo to invest into supporting 9 year old devices. It would be a bad user experience too. Would you want to use iPhone 4 or Samsung Galaxy S, both from 2010?

  24. I just bought a couple Mini Vox’s for $129.99 and haven’t opened them. Got a few days left to return, and now I think I might do that. Not what TiVo wants to hear I’m sure! But for long term viability of the platform, they need to have apps for more clients.

  25. It doesn’t look like it is transcoding, so the implementation will be interesting. I wonder if they are just licensing MPEG2 TS on the various devices and just playing them natively just like a TiVo Mini would.

    I am TOTALLY sold on this, but in the YouTube video, you mentioned a “TiVo hub”, did you mean a regular TiVo DVR or is this a new product, like the Stream?

  26. Since Roku is not capable of playing mpeg2, it must be transcoded. I wonder what TiVo models are capable of transcoding?

  27. @Elan!: That’s what I was wondering. But a difference being, how much (if any) of the “full” TiVo experience the app might not bring with it. I’ve gotten very dependent (in a privileged, technology world way) on QuickMode and SkipMode.

  28. Any idea of smart tv based app availability, such as android tv, webOS or Tizen? Or just through steamer box devices?

  29. This is a positive announcement but TiVo doesn’t have a track record of on-time delivery. If they are saying Q2/Q3, it’s possible we won’t see this for 9 months. I hope it’s much sooner than that.

  30. I have been a Tivo subscriber since 1998, and I hate to say it but the hardware has gotten worse over the years especially with the Tivo Bolt. If I didn’t hate the Xfinity X1 DVR, I probably would have switched. I’ve been thru 2 Bolts, and 4 remote controls… my Tivo mini freezes every day and barely runs Amazon Prime. I hope Tivo gets there crap together… As i would continue being a Tivo subscriber.

  31. Hey, it has live video on the main menu, something my mini isn’t even “allowed” to do.

    Minis can only get PIP in the guide.

  32. Joe, yeah, if TiVo says mid-year, mark your calendar for winter. ;)

    James, Android TV is a possibility. I highly doubt they’d be looking at or Tizen or webOS (and, yes, I know iTunes is coming to television platforms).

    The initial implementation will be equivalent in most respects to the iPhone/iPad and Android mobile apps. It’s possible down the road they might bring SkipMode and/or pass the full audio vs transcoding. Should be native to Roamio Pro/Plus and all Bolts. I assume other Roamios with discontinued Stream accessory may also take part, but not confirmed.

    Philip, the video is narrated by TiVo VP Ted Malone who shot this for us (props!) – by hub he means DVR.

  33. Dave, anything further on the Mini WiFi dongle/receiver, and when it might even (or if) make it to market/the cost?

  34. This is awesome news. It would be even “awesomer” if they could integrate the guides together with a streaming “cable” service like PS Vue, SlingTV, YouTube TV, Hulu TV, DTV Now, etc. This way you could use your TiVo OTA channels locally and integrated into the same Guide with those streaming cable services to appear as one service. Amazon’s Recast sort of does this with PSVue.

  35. @Evan Herberg:

    I wonder what TiVo models are capable of transcoding?

    Simple enough…

    All BOLTS (max 2 concurrent in-home streams)
    Roamio Plus|Pro and TiVo Stream (max 4 concurrent in-home streams)

    The mystery is whether all these devices will be supported, and if they’ll be required to be running TE4/Hydra.

  36. I haven’t had a great experience with TiVo’s existing Android app using the TiVo Stream functionality built-in to the Roamio Plus. Even on my local WiFi network, the UI and controls are sluggish, and I often encounter momentary pauses in the stream. The video quality is often noticeably inferior to what I got with a Hava. I find it tolerable for watching recorded shows when not in front of my TV, but I definitely prefer using a Mini.

    I’m a little bit skeptical that these newly announced streamer apps will offer a much better experience than the existing TiVo Android app, especially if it’s all TiVo Stream-based. However, the demo shown here does look fairly smooth (although I would have liked to see a better demonstration of fast-forward/reverse behavior), so I guess I’m cautiously optimistic.

  37. Yes, they’re similar to or even based on the mobile apps … as such, Ted has confirmed out-of-home streaming is a go!

  38. the holy grail would be this app that also has slingbox functions to let you watch your Tivo located in another location outside your home

  39. @krkaufman

    >>The mystery is whether all these devices will be supported, and if they’ll be required to be running TE4/Hydra.

    I would imagine that as long as they are based on the mobile clients that they should work with either front end. The iOS app works cleanly with TE3 so I can’t imagine this wouldn’t as well. I think (though unconfirmed via network capture) that both TE3 and TE4 use the same XML format when talking to other devices — TE3 can see/stream programs on TE4 and vice-versa, and kmttg can handle either.

  40. The other possible downside to these are:

    1. app integration, I doubt you would be able to search for content across all service providers as you do on dedicated tivo devices. The mobile app is good to live stream TV but that’s about it.

    2. Moca is a big selling point to keep minis as well. None of the other dvr companies offer this built in to my knowledge.

    3. Most streaming devices lack horsepower to run much of this smoothly I am guessing. The old minis struggle and they are a dedicated device. I am just curious how much they can get to run on top of whatever is already running.

    Anyhow still excited to see development with tivo. My family is used to the interface and I was afraid I would eventually have to find another alternative.

  41. I have a Tivo T6, a Roamio equivalent from RCN. RCN still does not offer the new experience. Will this work with TiVos from the cable operators, including ones on the old experience? How about the Pace/Arris boxes that run TiVo software?

  42. I only wish this had come out five years ago. My days using my TiVos seem to be waning now. I’ve been using TiVos since 2001 and this is the first time since then that I have not even watched anything on them. I have not watched anything from my TiVos all year.

    Since the DC area OTA station look like crap now. And FiOS looks equally bad, I am using streaming services for most of my broadcast content now. Since the quality is much better than FiOS and OAT in my area. I will still use my TiVos for a few shows that I can’t get from streaming without commercials, but there are only a few of those.

    I hate to say it but the days of me using TiVos might be coming to an end. Although if FiOS backtracked and went back to the quality they used to have, I would be glad to go back to the Ultimate HD tier.

  43. Out of home streaming is pretty much useless on Tivo (at least with Cox) as most shows are blocked. So the idea of taking a Roku stick to a hotel does not really excite. With so many streaming TV services now that work wherever you are Tivo really needs to find a way around these regulations that prevent OOH streaming (CCI byte etc)

  44. If I just need to watch shows in another room in the house, these apps would stream recorded content from the TiVo over the local network and not need a WAN/internet connection, right?

    Just want to make sure no upload/download over WAN happens that would lead to eating into the (stupid) monthly GB allowance before being charged extra fees.

  45. Since the comparison to Dish was brought up, it would be fair to note that while Dish did abondon the Virtual Joey product, the solution for years to view a Dish DVR and Live TV in another room similar to Joey experience on a big has been to use the FREE Dishanywhere app on Fire TV at no additional charge in place of a client, and it works very well.

    As for TiVo: Finally, a new app. The old one had serious problems, but I used it a lot in place of the Mini. I’m glad to see thid coming. HOWEVER, we should not sell our Mini’s just yet. We need to wait for the new TiVo app for connected devices release and get reports on how close the experience is to a real Mini. Too often, these apps lack features or functions or ease of use or use a totally different interface compared to the client device. We have to decide what we can and can’t live with using the app. I, for one, have invested in enough mini’s, so the places that don’t have a Mini, I am willing to accept a rudimentary TiVo, and each of us will to make that evaluation. Let’s not count too much on demos an promises when it comes to apps. We will only really know what the app will do and how it functions only after it is released and we get real world reports or reviews, but I’m glad we are getting something.

  46. Out of home streaming would be awesome. At our vacation home, I only have internet and an Apple TV. We use the slingbox app on an old iPhone to access a mini at home and then Airplay the Slingbox app to Apple TV. Having a native Apple TV app would be much simpler.

  47. Guys, this is not a mini replacement. Look there was no MY SHOWS link and such.. This seems to be more of a play for a MSO on a IP standpoint.. The Streamer app is NOT linking to a DVR but rather a IP enabled back-office.

  48. @Philip — it almost certainly will need to transcode if it supports out of home. Maybe it will be option locally, but I can’t see it doing out of home without it at least being supported.

  49. J, this is just a technology demo of pre-release stuff. It’s very possible it was easier to show IPTV clients that are further along in development and may operate differently. And/or all the screens/features aren’t in place yet. TiVo was very clear this will be similar to the mobile apps and is coming to retail subscribers, to be fed from our DVR.

  50. @J:

    there was no MY SHOWS link and such..

    Not sure what video you’ve watched, but the above video had the ‘MY SHOWS’ menu bar option for both the Fire TV and Apple TV versions of the apps. These apps are definitely for use by retail TiVo customers with their in-home DVRs.

  51. Many are referring to Roamio Pro/Plus. I have a Roamio, use it solely with antenna, connected to one TV, also have a couple of Apple TVs. Should this work for me for a second TV?

  52. I would think it would be a long time before the skip mode was enabled on the new streaming app because there needs to be some differentiation to drive sales of the Mini.

  53. @shwru980r from what a I read elsewhere, your TiVo box can only support two of these streaming devices, where if you had minis you could increase that number.

  54. @Larry Sochrin:

    I have a Roamio, use it solely with antenna, connected to one TV, also have a couple of Apple TVs. Should this work for me for a second TV?

    You’re tuning from antenna, so it’s a 4-tuner Roamio … and so lacks the built-in transcoding capability of the Roamio Plus|Pro. You’d need s TiVo Stream (or Roamio Plus|Pro) on the home network to enable mobile streaming of the content on your Roamio.

    … assuming this app will work with the Roamio Plus|Pro and Stream.

  55. Dave – can you also ask Ted if they will support AppleTV’s TV App integration? https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208083#usa
    I just cut the xfinity cord, removing cablecard from my Roamio and using OTA only for live tv. I would love a consolidated view with the other AppleTV apps I subscribe to like Hulu, HBO Go, etc so I don’t have to keep switching between apps. I assume this new Tivo app won’t attempt this level of integration on its own, so it would great if they could participate in the Apple TV app integration. PlayStation Vue did it so how much work could it be? ;-)

  56. Now all TIVO needs to do ‘to compete’ is reduce their monthly fee to $5 like TABLO … LOL I left TIVO exactly BECAUSE of their ridiculous mini box BS. Love my TABLO!!!

  57. When they introduced the Bolt OTA, they also launched a lower priced subscription for cord cutters at $7/month. Not as cheap as some, but way better than than the traditional rate.

  58. Really disappointed that we’re just getting another app that doesn’t do direct streaming like a Mini. I’m beginning to wonder if their Android TV clients for cable operators are going to use transcoded streams as well. I’m getting tired of having the Tivo being the only thing I can’t watch on my Shield TV box.

  59. @Pete Mitchell
    Can’t be that bad, once they roll out you will at least have ability to use Tivo App through Shield TV.

  60. I was debating returning my two unopened Vox Minis after seeing this great news. I split the difference, and returned one, and opened one. This is my first 4K Mini. Glad I kept it. It’s a great upgrade over the old Minis, even on a non-4K tv. Previous Minis were way too slow. The 4K Mini is so snappy, it makes me want to upgrade my Roamio, too.

    That being said, the price is tough to swallow. I won’t hold my breath, but I hope the MSRP of Minis is reduced if they still want to sell some once the apps are out.

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