TiVo+ Video Streaming Launches Next Month

Looks like the new TiVo Edge line won’t be the only big announcement this fall given Bloomberg’s interview with new CEO Dave Shull:

Later this month, TiVo plans to announce new international customers, and in October it will unveil a new product, TiVo Plus, that better integrates new streaming services with the company’s core TV console. After that, Shull said he’d like to design a more unified interface for the company’s 22 million customers and seek additional sources of revenue other than monthly subscriptions, such as advertising.

And from an owner who cornered TiVo staff at the CEDIA expo a few days ago:

They were even more sketchy [cagey?] about the TiVo+ Service. I got the feeling that the channels they would be adding are not the normal Cable TV channels, but rather some other obscure stuff.

While TiVo+ appears to be initially launching as something akin to the The Roku Channel or a Tubi-esque app of ad-supported video, it seems quite likely that the functionality is destined for much deeper integration and higher billing. In fact, beyond the app icon pictured above, it’s already being prominently advertised and accessed alongside What To Watch from TiVo’s main menu in pre-release software. So this may just be the first step of a much longer journey… should they stick with it. And, for additional bearing on the future direction, I’ll go ahead and quote myself quoting the interim CEO last year:

With the proliferation of content from multiple sources around the world that is delivered through broadcast, TV, OTT, on-demand and internet streaming, TiVo offers a powerful platform to engage audiences through a single, unified content discovery experience. The platform will enable end-users to experience content from leading digital brands integrated with live, recorded and OTT streaming titles. We are re-imagining the guide as one integrated content network that allows you to access all of the content you want to watch seamlessly. We believe this product has the potential to change how you watch TV again.

In addition, this unified discovery experience and content network will enable multiple high CPM targeted advertising opportunities for TiVo. These include sponsored discovery, content merchandising, display promotions, in-stream advertising, DVR ad replacement et cetera.

So while the first cut of TiVo+ may just feature random, ad-supported video, it seems they’re looking to more fully merge disparate content … and I’m told TiVo has actually tested running ads alongside DVR recordings. Which sounds quite obnoxious (and somewhere ironic, given Auto Skip), but could be a great strategy to lower consumer costs while boosting corporate revenue. Imagine an option to choose a fee-free, advertising-supported tier in addition to the ad-free traditional monthly (or Lifetime) service fees – similar to what Amazon does with its Kindle line.

As to the origins of the project (or is it projects?), I’m guessing this is what TiVo product guy David Shoop had championed before he departed for Amazon.

I also invented, built the strategy and currently serve as product lead for TiVo’s next gen TV platform (currently in stealth mode)

Guess it won’t be too long before we learn more!

19 thoughts on “TiVo+ Video Streaming Launches Next Month”

  1. That’s a wordy but vague quote from Tivo. I wish that would mean we will see OTT integration from providers like Philo and Sling TV.

  2. Hard to get excited about obscure apps being integrated in my TiVo guide along with advertisements, more like something to annoy me! But I’ll still keep using my TiVo regardless.

  3. Wait, so Tivo+ is basically going to just be a more advanced “What to Watch” feature that integrates the content from the apps on the box?

  4. I didn’t read anything concrete in those blurbs. The words “a single, unified content discovery experience” are of most interest.

  5. Why is it so hard for them to get any more mainstream streaming apps?
    Showtime, ABC,NBC,FOX
    Or new hungry apps like
    DC online, they need subscribers

    Can’t they just build the initial app for the provider and say here you go we wrote your app to be compatible with us and we support all your security protocols etc??
    also if I can record from other streaming services on their platform ‘dvr’ It would be nice if I could record from the streaming app on TiVo, this would be a true OTT
    They could leave out the local networks and do like an ATT watch package for $15 and they have most stuff.
    I just really like TiVo’s universal search and season passes
    Coming home and seeing what options I have in my now showing instead of searching around on Roku going in and out of apps or constantly being pushed to buy stuff on appletv and firetv

    Also why can’t TiVo support
    Airplay2 now that it’s in like allot of the (or least going forward)

    I know they have some type of cast technology already baked in
    Kinda like chromecast

    Or if they have it working on android what about a end user version something that supports (For the streaming apps)

    What ever happen to streaming over cellular ? It never got released
    It actually used to work with the old TiVo app when plugged into carplay it would for some reason stream over cellular and it would work great but it’s never been released…

    Ever since this company stopped being run by the engineers they have lost their mojo

    #sad

  6. Thanks for the scoop, Dave. TiVo+, at least in its initial form, sounds fine but a bit of a snoozer. We’ll see how good the free ad-supported content is. As you say, this is TiVo just rolling their own version of The Roku Channel or Tubi. (BTW, it looks like TiVo already has a Tubi app, although my guess is it’s a crappy HTML5 app that doesn’t work all that well.)

    Looking further out, the only situation where I could see TiVo successfully offering a free ad-forced version of their core DVR service would be in a cheap OTA DVR targeting cord-cutters. Make it a headless box (return of the Mavrik!) with as low a build cost as possible to do what it needs to do. Essentially, it would be their version of the 2-tuner Tablo. Connect your own USB hard drive (or buy one bundled in from TiVo if you’re technically clueless). Use the forthcoming TiVo app on your streaming devices to access live and recorded OTA TV from the TiVo box. It automatically comes with a free 14-day deluxe program guide and the ability to record BUT unless you upgrade to a paid subscription service plan (priced similar to Tablo’s), all your recordings will have unskippable targeted ads injected into them. (Isn’t this the inevitable business model for ATSC 3.0 DVRs, BTW?)

    Price something like that for $99 and it could be a hit. (Or at least a hit among the slice of households without some type of pay channel TV service but which DO care about free OTA TV.) Maybe they could even sell an optional universal TiVo peanut Bluetooth remote that could be programmed to work with the most popular recent-model streamers (Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV), offering the benefit of dedicated channel up/down and 0-9 buttons, along with other buttons that make for a better user experience when it comes to live and recorded channel-based TV. The TiVo app could present a slightly altered UI/UX when it detects that the TiVo universal remote is paired with the streaming device it resides on.

  7. Our local cable company started offering TiVo with the voice remote this summer. I still haven’t switched from DirecTV. I contemplate the future of linear and DVR video consumption in our household. There’s not really too much behind locals, Netflix and YouTube on our Roku boxes that is a necessity anymore.

    If TiVo does come up with a redesign, it has to operate as smooth as an Apple TV and launch things just as fast as that or a Roku Ultra.

  8. It sounds like Tivo will be offering a stand alone streaming Android box similar to what AT&T TV is offering (Tivo will be much better quality). Am I reading that right?

  9. @Mark – that would be great IF they don’t bleed us dry. I would consider buying it if their guide was available with the streaming apps I’m using on our Fire TV box. But mind you, we have OTA now. However, I’m not going to infer anything into their vague product description.

  10. I have but don’t use Tubi and the Roku Channel. Tubi works on many boxes and Roku has (I assume) much higher penetration than Tivo. How can a channel tied to a specific brand of boxes with low deployment numbers be successful or help the box maker?

    Regarding ad insertion, I’d hope that’s just for boxes they sell to cable co’s. But then the cable co’s already had ways to insert ads! Anyway, if my Tivo’s start inserting ads that will just speed my cord cutting.

  11. Yes, I believe these solutions are destined for both retail customers and cable partners. I’m obviously retail-centric in my coverage and something like ad-replacement seems more like a cableco fantasy. But everyone has had supported video these days. Plex just announced Lionsgate content, for example.

    Putting TiVo with CableCARD tuning on Android TV would not be trivial, may not be possible. For IPTV and cloud DVR, as their partners are doing, that’s something else. Wonder if it could be repurposed with the existing tuner hooks folks like Sling and HDHR for an OTA variant…

  12. Dave, I’m hearing through the beta-tester grapevine that ads may soon be placed inside of the TiVo program guide grid UI. Any idea how that might actually be deployed? Only on cable partner boxes? Or on retail boxes too?

    If they stick tacky third-party ads in the guide on retail boxes that are already covered by expensive All-In lifetime service, TiVo is gonna have some ANGRY customers on their hands. That’s the kind of thing you expect to see on cheap streamers like Roku and Fire TV, or maybe on your crappy cableco DVR.

    Of course, given how few retail customers TiVo has now, and the degree to which TiVo’s future (such as it is) lies in their B2B partnerships, perhaps TiVo isn’t afraid of pissing off retail customers. If you shelled out hundreds on lifetime service, well, TiVo’s already got your money, there’s no getting it back…

  13. Can’t wait to not use this new app!

    What happened to this company? I’m selling my tivo equipment, and purchasing firesticks and huluTV. The grid may be inferior, and the ads are hard to sit through, but the content is there….its all there.

  14. If they’re adding adverts to the guide for some sort of free service tier, fine. They sure as hell better not be adding them for people who pay a monthly or lifetime fee.

  15. Not entirely from the horse’s mouth or the horse misspoke … as the article has been tweaked. Will have to wait and see what really ships this first iteration of TiVo Plus and how it fits in with or ultimately replaces What to Watch. Also may be differences between MSO and retail experiences.

    The dongle is news and interesting.

  16. Dave, perhaps the TiVo+ app on traditional TiVo DVRs won’t feature content recommendations since that’s already done in the main Hydra UI with What to Watch. Maybe the app there only has the free ad-supported video content (which itself will get referenced/linked to in the main Hydra UI).

    But maybe the TiVo+ app on streaming devices (at least their own forthcoming Android TV stock) *will* also incorporate third-party content recommendations in addition to TiVo’s own free video. Kind of like The Roku Channel and the Apple TV app.

  17. So far it seems this is a simple evolution to compete with free ad-supported content from virtually all the streaming stick makers including Vudu. I have all these and use them infrequently. Adding this feature to my TiVo box appears to be an attempt to even the playing field where TiVo is quickly being left in the dust.

    I hope TiVo continues to evolve their platform. Been using it for decades and like it far more than cable boxes we were tied to in the beginning. Now getting those ads in front of every DVR recording so TiVo is trying our patience but for now we stick with them.

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