TiVo Stream 4K Dumps The DVR, Channels Sling TV

Photo via TechHive.

TiVo continues to move forward with plans to launch an Android TV dongle this Spring. And, from CES, new details have been revealed… including its name: TiVo Stream 4K.

While the company has gone back to the well on branding, the Stream 4K represents an entirely new consumer product category for the DVR pioneer in the form of an inexpensive internet streamer. Unlike their traditional DVR product line, this ships without television tuners and a hard drive. In fact, the spotlight video service is Sling TV, from their former nemesis DISH, wrapped within the TiVo interface. Beyond the resident services (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, YouTube are also confirmed), TiVo’s sales pitch is a more unified experience* than a Roku or Apple TV provide:

TiVo Stream 4K will launch with Sling TV as the preferred source for subscription TV. TiVo’s industry-leading user experience and personalized discovery features will integrate seamlessly with the Sling TV app to provide a TV viewing experience that is truly unique when compared to any other streaming product on the market today. […] TiVo Stream 4K will also provide seamless integration with multiple online video services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, YouTube and more.

Pretty cool stuff. They’re skating to where the puck is headed, attempting to bring order to chaos, while seemingly taking the best parts of the TiVo experience and doing away with the exorbitant hardware investment. Obviously, the product is geared to current and future cord cutters.

As to actual hardware, a knowledgeable Twitter account suspects its an Amlogic S905Y2 Android TV reference design, manufactured by SEI Robotics, that closely mirrors AirTV Mini. Beyond that, given the ability to launch Android TV into a specific app, we can assume it’s running a variant of Google’s operator tier software. The remote is the classic, but somewhat shrunken and tweaked, TiVo peanut — swapping color-coded OCAP buttons for the Google Assistant.

Sadly, the TiVo Stream 4K will not act as a TiVo Mini extender for existing DVR owners and the virtual Mini client apps are on hold, if not permanently shelved. I get that TiVo feels they need another, lower cost play in the retail space. But it’s too bad that it’s likely coming at the expense of their traditional DVR line. With continued corporate mergers and executive shuffles, the ensuing product pivots have not been entirely unexpected … but they are disappointing.

The TiVo Stream 4K is expected to launch this April (so plan on June), with introductory $50 pricing … that’ll eventually move to $70. Oh yeah, it’ll also include ad-supported TiVo+ content that you probably won’t care to watch.

Additional TiVo Stream 4K coverage:

  • Digital Media Zone: TiVo Aims To Solve Streaming’s Biggest Problem
  • TechHive: The TiVo Stream 4K is an unexpectedly exciting media streamer
  • CordCuttersNews: TiVo Unveils a Streaming Player to Compete with Roku, Fire TV, & More
  • Engadget: TiVo’s $50 Stream 4K dongle takes aim at cord-cutters in April

32 thoughts on “TiVo Stream 4K Dumps The DVR, Channels Sling TV”

  1. So…for those of us hitting the limit on devices (currently 12) on our account, there is no relieve. That’s a bummer, I was hoping I could leverage my Apple TVs for this since even buying more Minis doesn’t fix the problem. Oh well. I have a blended house and a lot of screens, and Apple is happy to provide content on all of them. It’s too bad Tivo doesn’t.

  2. William, Jared’s post is linked in the article. Given the shifting priorities, with possibly limited resources working retail product, and yet another new boss in the coming months, I wouldn’t count on it.

    Bud, I don’t think anything will be pulled from the market but that Edge launch didn’t have much oomf behind it. I think they do well financially with retail subscriptions, but acquiring new customers is hard and costly. If they were more committed, I’d expect those streaming app clients…

  3. How do you provide a “a more unified experience” without cooperation from the apps for other streaming services? As we saw with apps on the TiVo, it’s hard (or too costly?) to get support for low volume devices. Although, maybe requesting mods of the Android apps will be easier/cheaper than apps for a completely different system.

    What can they do to make me want a box that requires (emphasizes?) SlingTV instead of a Roku, Apple, Amazon, or Android box?

    The make the best damn cable box, but the world is shifting to streaming with a clear split between streaming boxes and streaming services. They have no real streaming service and good boxes are cheap. They’re trying to walk a middle path with an “underwhelming” service and a box that will have trouble distinguishing itself from the competition.

  4. Is there video of a demo somewhere? I would be interested in this if the SlingTV live tv grid guide was TiVo-like and snappy. The grid is why I bailed out on SlingTV for my AppleTV and went back to my Roamio with a basic cable package. I like to channel surf the grid guide, but Sling’s grid was so crappy vs. my TiVo I couldn’t take it anymore.

  5. I wonder if the TiVo Stream 4K will have a OnePass concept where you set a pass for say “Dark” on Netflix, “Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, and “Westworld” on HBO. On the TiVo, the OnePass for streaming content acted as shortcut direct to the show on that service. That was a great idea, but the app-based access was so slow that I gave up on it. And will it also be able to set a DVR pass for linear content from SlingTV (or any other service like it)?

    Will there be a unified Program Guide? And if so, how does non-linear content show up in the guide? Would it perhaps show the top trending Netflix shows in it program guide row?

  6. I can see a low-ish powered androidTV box as being attractive at $50; perhaps less so at $70. But how are they supposed to make money on this? Deals with Sling? Ads in the built-in streaming app?

    Ultimately I just don’t see a business plan here. A rebranded Chinese android box won’t compete with Roku and FireTV.

    I’ve been saying TiVo should release its core software as an Android app for almost a decade now– but not like this. The DVR stuff, that TiVo experience, season passes and wishlists, _that’s_ how they could differentiation themselves.

    Just release a TiVo android/androidTV/fireTV app, recording off a plugged-in tuner or HDhomerun or whatever to a local disk or NAS. Just release that app, free in the Google Play store, then charge five bucks per month after the first week.

    No hardware. Why would you want to compete in hardware? That’s insane!

  7. tlc, they have hooks deep into Sling TV – it’s Sling channels within the TiVo guide augmented by TiVo+ supposedly and all the other apps in universal search. Sling TV is the only announced premium TV aggregator service, so that is something of a lock-in to maximize the guide. I added an asterisk to the unified characterization in the article. :) For scale, seems like there are about 2.7m Sling TV subscribers

    LTskier, there’s a video clip embedded in the post taken by CordCutterNews. Somebody who saw it, maybe Richard Gunther of Digital Media Zone, told me it’s all very snappy. Another someone said it’s clearly alpha and why there’s not much video of it in action… so who knows. :)

    Paul T, I assume the business model is some sort of revenue sharing with Sling and TiVo+ ads. They also presumably get sales commissions for new subscribers of other services, as Roku and others have worked out. Maybe interface ads too? It’s worked well for Roku…

  8. So, it’s a Roku – sort of, but more expensive. Roku’s research was people don’t care about the interface, so why bother.

    It’s a Fire TV Stick, but more expensive, and the Prime app is probably updated slower than the first party devices.

    It’s cheaper than an Apple TV, but it’s not in the Apple ecosystem.

    It’s cheaper than a Nvidia Shield, but without the Shield’s game content.

    It doesn’t leverage any of the TiVo legacy capabilities or connections. Just the TiVo+ service, which is questionable. Seems like a waste of using the TiVo name.

    Seems like a strange market to try and enter. I’m not convinced “search on the TV” is what people were missing. I suppose, we compensate by searching on a tablet first and then going directly to what we want in the correct app. Of course, the tablet is way easier to type on than a TV remote.

    If it was a cheaper to produce (and sell) mini with a TiVo client app. To bridge the market, even with an inferior TiVo experience to a full mini, that would be something at least. An introductory type price with a chance for upsell, or at least to prevent people from getting different boxes for less used TVs and then drifting away from TiVo entirely.

  9. Agree with Matt. No matter how good this is (tbd) the market is saturated with solid solutions (with more available services). Roku is a well known and beloved name. “TiVo” used to be. But most folks who still recognize the name respond with “they still exist?” It’s an uphill battle.

  10. I am not sold this is a big of a deal as some of the press is telling everyone but it will be interesting. I wonder if this “box” will have Amazon Echo, Google Home and/or app control?

  11. Given that’s it’s Android TV with a Google Assistant remote button, I’d say probability is high for Google Home integration. Also the press release indicates it will feature TiVo’s native voice control. Notice the mic button on the remote. Could be Alexa too, since they already built that for “legacy” TiVo.

  12. This is the last nail in the TiVo coffin. How do they think they can produce any kind of “integrated guide” when Rovi supplies the worst TV guide I’ve ever seen to my TiVo Roamio? Seriously, they can’t even figure out if tonight’s Jimmy Kimmel is a rerun or not!

    Now I’m even happier I added a Tablo Quad last spring. Better quality TV tuners and a much more accurate guide than the TiVo. The only thing the TiVo does better is skip mode and fast forwarding in general.

    The only question now is, how much longer will TiVo keep supplying guide data to users?

  13. First question- can you pause and rewind live tv with this?

    Second question-
    If they could partner with sling tv to do this – please tell me why they couldn’t do this in their native software on their real DVR devices?

    THAT would truly be a unique offering that does not exist. Untapped potential to up-sell to the existing millions of install base.

    Think how many sling tv subscriptions they could sell to people using ota TiVos if they could pipe in traditional cable content right into the existing guide, all while still using a real dvr.

  14. Actually they should have BEEN Sling TV and offered their own TiVo branded subscription bundle 3+ years ago and never would be in this situation.

    Would have been able to sell a hell of a lot more boxes with that.

  15. Hmm. Let’s do something new.

    Maybe move into the area dominated by Apple, Google, and Amazon?

    We should be able to succeed there.

  16. If it is slower than my local drive, I do not want it.
    How do I get enough data down my internet connection to have 4 TV running different programming with kids, and I like to FF and rewind a lot? I have tried the streaming apps on TIVO, but they are too slow, not only load but are not as responsive to trick plays.
    I run almost everything in fast mode, drives the wife crazy, so she watches on a different TV.
    I have an app on my computer that lets me set video speed from 0.10 to ?? in 0.10 steps, I watch a lot of it in 2.0 to 2.5 speed, waiting for the video to load bugs me.

  17. MJK, this product is not a local DVR nor does it tie into a TiVo DVR like every other product they’ve ever done. The company that invented the DVR is essentially reselling a former competitor’s DVR in this product (although it’s the licensed content most will care about). That’s notable and, for me, the big “news” (since they had already announced the dongle and price point).

    Bryan, I had asked TiVo before I posted if Sling TV might come to existing DVR hardware. Haven’t heard back. Hasn’t been a great week for me gathering info. Guess they have a new PR person and one peer indicated the team that briefed them at CES was entirely unfamiliar (and they were limiting what could be filmed/photographed, which also makes you wonder about timeline).

  18. My draft headline was TiVo Launches AirTV. 🤷🏻‍♂️ TiVo Stream 4K can actually utilize AirTV tuners like the AirTV Mini. But no actual TiVo tuners.

  19. Dave,
    A better headline would have been “Tivo Launches Streaming Device Without DVR”

    TIVO Dump s DVR, ……..
    Was click bait to me.

  20. Yeah that freaked me out as i cant receive ota channels where i live and have to use cable (frontier fios). And i cant afford to pay over $900.00 for a lifetime tivo any more!.I despertly hope they will have the tivo edge for cable on sale this summer. I really hate what streaming has done to tv viewing!!! Its to complicated to find shows with too many different apps to just find 1 show you may want to watch,i cant keep up with netflix they sometimes add a hundred shows in 1 week!

  21. In that case… we have a new headline! :) Although, I was obviously a fan of the original – felt it accurately portrayed the unique product offering and seismic shift in the B2C business. Although, as with the Rovi acquisition, we’re just months away from a new management team and anything is possible.

  22. I would love to see my Tivo Bolt Vox with an Android operating system and apps.

    I’m still happy running TE3 on my Bolt but I fear the day will come when they force everyone to the TE4 ad experience.

    In the meantime, I’ve been experimenting with Channels DVR and I really think it’s a great Tivo replacement if I ever need it. I have it set up with an HDHR OTA, HDHR Prime w/ cablecard, Xfinity TV Everywhere and Locast. All in one nice integrated guide. It’s a fun project DVR that just works wonderfully. Only thing it’s missing is Tivo’s DRM access that HDHR doesn’t have.

  23. Well, it sounds like they’re going to use Sling TV’s DVR, which means I’d have to subscribe to Sling TV again. Good luck.

    The last time I re-subscribed to Sling TV (Late December, 2019) after a three-month hiatus, they gave me a 10-day free trial to show their gratitude. But tech support was never able to get my enhanced DVR working again. After escalating the problem in their tech dept., I waited the full 10 days, and still no DVR. So I cancelled for good. Sling TV is full of bugs, and that was the last straw for me, especially w/their price increases.

    Too bad TiVo couldn’t/didn’t hook up w/Hulu for their DVR, which is excellent. Now, in addition to HD antennas hooked up to my TiVo Bolt and TiVo Premiere for all my local channels for free, I have Hulu premium (tons of VOD w/no ads, about $12/month) and Philo TV (over 50 live channels, about $20/month), Amazon Prime Video (which I have anyway because I have Amazon Prime), and am trying a one-month free trial to Netflix.

    I’ll probably drop Netflix after the free month, as I’m grabbing tons of their content w/my PlayOn Windows server app (about $30 for a lifetime license). PlayOn lets me transfer content from multiple streaming services to my computer as Mpeg 4 files. From there I can stream it to my Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, etc., automatically skipping any ads; or I can edit and burn it to a DVD for my library.

    Frankly, although I’m a longtime TiVo customer, I think they’re missing the boat here in many ways. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it all works out.

Leave a Comment