TiVo Plans $50 Android TV Stick For 2020

TiVo’s new CEO seems to be on something of a press tour, having first revealed TiVo+ to Bloomberg, followed up with a CNN hardware bombshell in an effort recapture consumer interest and marketshare:

Early next year, the company will release a dongle that costs about $50. For now, the device is built to run on Google’s Android TV, according to Shull. The dongle can be plugged into the back of a TV and will load up TiVo’s service for broadband customers and also use AI to make recommendations, similar to TiVo Plus, but as a hardware solution.

I find CNN’s “for now” hedge fascinating. I’ll go ahead and assume product details are still being fleshed out, but imagine it’ll be more DISH Air TV than Amazon Fire TV, headlined by TiVo+/What to Watch content recommendation based upon the services we subscribe and augmented by video they’ve licensed. And you know how they hit the low fifty dollar price point: TiVo’s gotta sell some ads. I am hopeful they won’t forget about us DVR owners and intend to also port over the upcoming streaming client, to provide an inexpensive, lighter-weight TiVo Mini alternative.

The company hopes increase their total headcount to fifty million customers next year, with this upcoming TiVo Stick leading the charge. While the favorable pricing helps, it’s crowded out there and their marketing muscle ain’t what it once was. For context, they dropped below 1 million revenue-generating retail TiVo owners in 2013 … and I can’t imagine that number has gone up.

21 thoughts on “TiVo Plans $50 Android TV Stick For 2020”

  1. So what is the goal of the stick? Will it connect to a Tivo box and show live TV or is it just going to be an Android TV dongle that just has the additional apps the main box doesn’t have? If it is just another Android TV dongle, seems really pointless without the ability to do live TV from a real box.

  2. Ad-supported TiVo+ content recommendations seems like a lock, plus all the other apps you get on Android TV. Access to a USB or network tuner and/or existing TiVo DVRs would make it all the more compelling. TiVo also knows how to do cloud DVR. I assume we’ll learn more from CES in January.

  3. Yeah, without existing Tivo DVR tuners being able to be used (for live tv and watching recordings), it seems worthless, at least for me. I’ve never once used the “What to Watch” feature. So one with ads seems even less usable. I know this is all way to earlier and no details have really been released, just seems disappointing.

  4. Seamlessly link me to my recordings (in their cloud or even better… on my own Tivo DVRs) with that stick so I can use it anywhere I have an suitable internet connection and I would DEFINITELY buy it.

  5. TiVo needs many, many more retail customers than us existing owners… but, yeah, it’d be nice if they throw us a bone with some Android TV Stick -> DVR linkage.

  6. Late to the party as usual.
    The won’t even fix the lethargic apps on the Scars.
    Why would I buy this over a Roku or Fire?

  7. I’m wondering if Google has loosened up their restrictions around the home screen UI for *retail devices* running Android TV. Up ’til now, they’ve only allowed pay TV operators to replace Google’s standard UI with their own custom UI (as the new AT&T TV service is doing with their Android TV box). Yes, Sling sells a retail Android TV dongle with their own custom UI, the new Air TV Mini, but that’s just a hardware extension of Sling’s cable TV service (even if it is an OTT service). OTOH, OnePlus is about to roll out their first TV and it’s going to run Google Android TV but with a somewhat-modified UI.

    Anyhow, what I’m getting at is, will TiVo’s Android TV stick have their native Hydra/TiVo+ UI on the home screen, or will it feature the standard Google home screen like the Nvidia Shield TV and the Mi Box S (with the only TiVo customization being a pre-installed TiVo+ app)? Will TiVo take over content recommendations done via voice search or will that be the standard Google Assistant? If the latter in both cases, the product is a bit underwhelming. Still though, Android TV hasn’t been sufficiently pushed in the marketplace (no thanks to Google) and the platform would do well to have a $50 4K HDR stick to compete against Roku and Fire TV. (BTW, it looks like Google is *finally* planning to release their own Android TV hero device next year: https://www.androidcentral.com/stadia-coming-android-tv-2020-along-android-11-r-and-more?utm )

    At any rate, I can easily see TiVo further following the Sling/AirTV playbook by rolling out their own network tuner, like the AirTV 2. Connect it to your OTA antenna and your home network (via wifi or ethernet) and you’ve got live TV integrated into TiVo’s stick/app. Plug in a USB drive into the tuner and you have the option of paying for TiVo DVR service. Or maybe DVR service is free but TiVo skips over the recorded ads and replaces them with targeted streaming video ads they insert. Perhaps you get (or can pay for) a certain amount of cloud DVR storage so that select OTA recordings get uploaded to TiVo’s servers to out-of-home streaming access.

  8. The $50 price point isn’t necessarily funded by Tivo running ads directly. Google Android TV basically ‘gives away’ an operator a dongle implementation. ( which spreads baseline R&D costs over more devices …. but yes along the way some Google ad money is weaved in there. ).

    https://9to5google.com/2019/09/16/google-android-tv-operator-dongle/

    All the operator has to do is send in the logos to print on the hardware (and a button on the remote) and an Android TV build image to load into the firmware.

    Comcast is giving away first Flex box if you have their broadband internet (https://www.xfinity.com/learn/flex). One of the smaller operators could do something similar with Tivo doing most of the customization work. [ If the cost is small enough the broadband operator may just give at least one of these away ( indirectly paid for out of Internet subscription revenue ) ]. In this case, the live TV stream from the operator would be integrated by default into the channel guide. There could be some co-branding on the box.

    If Tivo+ is a “pay for” option for folks who don’t have a forward supported Tivo DVR device, then perhaps Tivo could be the “operator tier” here and put just their logo on it. ( and yes bonus would be ability to pick up local Tivo DVR recordings if have both. So it was serve as a replacement for the Mini over the long term. ).

    Operators can do bigger hybrid boxes, but this “race to the bottom” priced dongle in the AndroidTV space can be shared hardware (with just customized launcher/guide layered on top to separate them).

  9. On the one hand, releasing TiVo apps for Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV would hurt sales of their own forthcoming Android TV stick. OTOH, if the stick is just $50, they’re likely not making much on the hardware anyhow. So it’s really just a play for ad, and maybe subscription, revenue. In which case, sure, why not let everyone install the TiVo adware on all those streaming boxes and sticks they already own?

  10. 50 million is a pipe dream.

    Too little too late as usual.

    Plus they have just about never hit a release date (still waiting on streaming apps… For firetv, Android, etc… That were due months ago)so it’ll be 2021 before they have a dongle ready to sell. If they can’t get an Android TV streaming app out in time then how can we trust they’ll have hardware and software for Android TV when they say.

    Actually often enough announced things never come to fruition. So this may never show up either.

    Dvr’s are getting to be pointless with streaming. Amazon, Roku and apple seem to have streaming device market handled already. And apple and Amazon have more money then anyone to battle it out.

    As I write all this, I start to wonder if they’ll even stay alive long enough for my latest lifetime service purchase to break even ….

  11. When I saw the headline, I assumed it was a stick you plugged into your Tivo to give it the ability to run Android TV apps. That would make a lot more sense to me.

  12. Lyman, sounds like the Stick will be a retail offering. And a $50 BOM does not include the marketing monies required to move millions of these and ongoing support costs. They have to be better on the ads. As Roku does.

    And, who knows, maybe they’ll surprise with subscription services like guide (if you can get live TV from somewhere) or cloud DVR.

  13. Nifty, but I have to imagine that since it’s wireless, it would require transcoded content, at which point this device gets a hard pass from me.

  14. I wish Tivo could fix the out of the home streaming experience, then they would be on to something. I travel a lot and can never get it to work.

  15. Ok, so let assume all the other AndroidTV apps are there
    ABC, Disney, Showtime

    The real question is can I search for shows inside the TiVo app on it
    And setup one passes for shows that link back to the other apps

    Ie can I setup a onepass for say showtime show have my DVR record episodes and have the links to for old or missing episodes listed from the app ?

    What I’m hoping for is stop constantly jumping in an out of apps to get my favorite shows
    I just want them all to show up in now showing regardless of where they come from

    AppleTv
    And Roku still don’t this very well

    And I prefer TiVo

  16. MarkV, that’s a great question and what I’m wondering about too. What you’re looking for is a streaming device with a unified watchlist that spans content across all the different apps/services, so that you click on a title in your watchlist and it goes straight to that title and begins playing immediately. Apple’s own TV app on Apple TV boxes does this (although Netflix won’t let it fully work their own content). It looks to me like Google’s standard home screen on Android TV does this too with its “Watch Next” row near the top of the screen.

    For business reasons, this kind of cross-app search/bookmarking/deep-linking functionality seems like something that platform owners would keep for themselves. I can’t see why Google, when licensing their Android TV operating system to TiVo, would allow TiVo to replace Google’s own core functionality in this regard with TiVo’s implementation. Although, in the end, it’s really all about $$$. Who knows what kind of revenue sharing arrangement TiVo and Google might have in place for this $50 TiVo Android TV stick that would persuade Google to be more flexible with them than they’ve been with other retail licensors of Android TV…

  17. Following up on my last comment, it was recently revealed that Google is apparently finally planning to release in 2020 their own “hero device” running Android TV, with some new features included, such as support for their Stadia streaming game service. https://www.theverge.com/2019/9/16/20869185/google-stadia-android-tv-roadmap

    I wonder if Google and TiVo might be teaming up to co-brand this new $50 Android TV stick? Maybe it will feature a blend of TiVo and Google features, UI elements, search capabilities, recommendations, etc. Probably not, but stranger pairings have happened. Their partnership could even be part of a larger deal between the two that involves Google licensing certain patents and metadata from TiVo.

  18. That TiVo dongle will be provided by SEI, just like the ADT-2 and the AirTV Mini.

    That’s basically the same device as the Mini, with maybe a slight change in design. Specs are all the same (S905Y2).

    Source: 100% certain.

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