TiVo Goes Back To The (Linux) Well

As Xperi is decoupled from its intellectual property business, to sidestep “channel conflict,” the company continues to crank away on their Roku-esque aspirations by turning the TiVo Stream platform into a television OS.

Revealed two years ago, and arriving only a year late, the company’s first partnership is poised to begin producing Vestel televisions “Powered by TiVo” in early 2023. As a gadget-loving consumer, I find the company and their approach rather uninteresting these days. But The Verge went into deeper detail for those who’d like to follow along and a recent investor webcast talks to hopes of several more TV OEMs coming online within the next year or so.

The only item here that really piques my interest is the technological approach. While the current TiVo Stream 4K dongle runs Android TV, the new television platform is described as Linux-based… like their original line of DVRs. By doing so, TiVo is no longer beholden to Google and regains control of their destiny, but they also limit the amount of apps they can integrate — without additional time and expense, by they or their partners. Then again, a large part of the pitch seems to be revenue sharing from the FAST video content deals they’ve brokered, like Pluto TV, vs fully replicating the consumer dongle experience with a nearly infinite and rich app ecosystem — the end result will vary amongst partners, most likely dictated by TV OEM relationships and region.

(Photo via Display Daily)

19 thoughts on “TiVo Goes Back To The (Linux) Well”

  1. I haven’t watched the linked webcast, but presumably, this has nothing to do with the TiVo DVR line–e.g. a television line that incorporates *both* TiVo DVR capabilities and Stream aspects (which TiVo presciently (really!) was on the way to years ago and then largely abandoned)?

  2. Correct, no DVR capabilities. This is about giving manufacturers that don’t possess their own television platform a co-branded, revenue-sharing, data-mining set to call their own. Not only is TiVo they going back to the well on the technological platform, they’re largely regurgitating their cableco DVR business approach — both in terms of the companies that may need them and in acting as unifying middleman.


  3. Yea TiVo started going downhill when the engineers that ran the company left.

    The idea that they didn’t leverage the stream to be able integrate Tivo dvr recordings into a play list of streaming shows link to android apps Shows how inept management is

  4. Six CEOs in five years isn’t really great for anything (except maybe golden parachutes).

    The executive shuffle seems to have slowed, but this particular business pillar isn’t great blog fodder for us geeky US consumers. The TV partnerships will be overseas or smaller manufacturers we here wouldn’t likely mess with. Perhaps there’s more to come on the Android TV dongle side of the house. We shall see.

    I bailed on their DVR when it became clear the under-development Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku DVR extender apps had been killed. At the same time they were adding pre-roll advertising to our recordings – beyond the annoyance, it would crash my TiVo Mini. Who needs that.

  5. How many TV OS’s do we need? Roku, Android TV, LG WebOS, Samsung Tizen, Xfinity XclassTV, then you have stuff like AppleTV.

    It’s getting a bit crowded don’t you think? What can they promise to do better, and be more appealing than the existing marketplace? Not against it, choice is good but best of luck to them in an already established market.

  6. I can’t believe Smart TVs are still a thing. I have always tried to avoid them, but that may be impossible now–I haven’t shopped for quite a while.

    I have the Tivo dongle, and it was fine, but it is on a TV we hardly use now. The technology has improved since it was released. I don’t want my TV to have that short of a useful lifespan.

    It reminds me of the old TV/VCR combo units. Never wanted one of those either, but for slightly different reasons (needed to replace the entire thing when either the TV or VCR broke). Or maybe Cablecard, another TV combo thing that went nowhere.

  7. “I can’t believe Smart TVs are still a thing. I have always tried to avoid them, but that may be impossible now–I haven’t shopped for quite a while.”

    @Kary – it’s virtually impossible to buy a dumb TV, but they’re easy to avoid anyway. Don’t hook them up to WiFi, don’t connect them to Ethernet, put your preferred Streaming Device on them, and voila, it’s basically dumb.

    That said, I have a WebOS based and AndroidTV based set that based on where they are, work perfectly great and I don’t need a streamer attached – the apps are “good enough.” If / When it’s obsolete and unsupported, I’ll plug in a dongle.

  8. I originally moved my CableCARD into a HDHomeRun Prime with Channels DVR server running on an NVIDIA SHIELD. Nowadays I’m running Channels DVR server on a Mac Mini and using an OTA HDHR. Although we rarely watch live television and most shows we might have DVR-ed are available ad-free through various streaming services, like the FX stuff on Hulu and Dancing with the Stars on Disney+. I’m mostly keeping the DVR around for insurance I guess? If I ever dropped the server component, I’d still use Channels for live.


  9. That’s my situation. Tivo with Cablecard, and then Channels DVR with two HDHR ATSC 3.0 devices (which I wouldn’t need two of if all their tuners were 3.0). The fees on cable were getting to be too high, such as non-optional money money for automatically included sports channels and locals.

  10. The Channels thing is interesting. Hadn’t seen that before. Would you say it can be a complete substitute for Tivo (for cable…I still have Comcast)?

    We probably watch 70% streaming, but the 30% on Tivo is often not available on streaming, hence keeping both Comcast and the Tivo. And Tivo’s still easier when it comes to skipping around…most streamers make 10 second skips clunky.

  11. I don’t see how this would be appealing to consumers at all. I’ve been a long-time TiVo fan (20+ years), even going all in on the TiVo Stream as my current preferred solution — but only because of the hardware/remote/Android combo. The Roamio was a great solution for me but as the streaming ecosystem started to explode it couldn’t keep up with offering the apps I wanted — even for a popular service like Disney+. Moving back to Linux will keep the system constrained, unfortunately.

  12. I just pulled the plug on my TiVos yesterday.

    Two Bolts and a Roamio Pro. Moved their cablecards into a triplet of HDHomeRuns, and now I’ve got Channels DVR chewing away on all that goodness.

    The Channels app isn’t absolutely perfect, but it’s quite frankly good enough.

    The one business TiVo should be in? Remote controls. Even better than the onscreen interface, their physical UX was damn near perfect.

    If they’d make a peanut remote for Apple TV, it’d be glorious. Truly the best device TiVo ever made, and it hasn’t changed significantly in 20 years…. it hasn’t needed to.

  13. There are Channels interface/presentation choices I don’t love, but overall it’s highly usable and many things (like guide, commercial skip, remote access) are definitely superior to TiVo.

    Years ago, I and others, suggested additional hardware like universal remotes, Blu-ray players, etc. Could have parlayed their brand and experience in various ways. (But, instead, they spent $300m on an analytics company and were content as largely a mid-cap middleman to the cable industry.)

  14. I would agree Channels is overall superior. In addition to the things you mention, I like to be able to customize the FF/REW time skip values. Not being able to do that on Tivo drove me nuts. There were a few other things where Tivo was very Apple-like (not offering consumers a choice, for sake of simplicity).

    The main downside is Channels doesn’t quite offer as many options when setting up a season pass for a show.

  15. Dave/others – my TiVo bolt with lifetime service died on me a week ago (stuck on “starting up” screen no matter what resets I try). I had the version that could do either cable or antenna and had been using it with antenna for the last two years. I have two mini’s in the house too.

    Looking for advice on either a) a new TiVo Edge for Antenna for $250 with lifetime service after promo code. Or b) go Channels route which involves $80/yr annual service cost and either $110 or $200 for HDHomeRun (depending on whether I future-proof for ATSC3.0 which isn’t in the Minneapolis market yet). I have an old laptop that I can repurpose to store recordings and run Channels after I figure out a way to reformat a 2TB laptop drive I had put into the Bolt two years ago.

    We have a lot of AppleTV boxes in the house and the kids and wife use that for nearly everything. I’m the only one who watched TV on the TiVo sometimes. So there’s some appeal to just using ATV for everything and not having to switch inputs back and forth. But TiVo is definitely the cheaper option in the long run.

  16. For your situation, sticking with TiVo seems to be the most efficient and cost-effective approach. However, I’d try to replace the drive in your Bolt (don’t know if that’s the issue) or find a replacement Lifetimed Bolt on ebay before going to Edge – TiVo has a stingy warranty and Edge is prone to hardware failure.

    As to ATSC, broadcasters are required to simulcast 1.0 for years once making the transition to 3.0. Also, there’s no telling if/when DRM is coming to 3.0 and what limitations you may be hit with.

    As to experience, I prefer Channels these days. Not sure about repurposing an existing laptop. Do you have anything else around the house? I’m running it on my daily driver Mac Mini, with no impact to anything.

  17. Actually, there’s a TiVo Community thread going on right now suggesting Roamio will best stand the test of time. And that’s the model I have currently collecting dust in storage, until/unless a blogworthy update presents itself. :)

  18. Additional info from a CES press release:

    TiVo, the company that brings entertainment together, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xperi Inc. (XPER: NYSE), and Vestel, one of the top three European TV manufacturers, today announced that as part of a multi-year, multi-country and multi-million-unit agreement, the first Powered by TiVo™ smart TVs are expected to ship as early as spring 2023 featuring chipsets from MediaTek, a global fabless semiconductor company that enables more than two billion connected devices a year. When released, consumers in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Turkey will be able to purchase Powered by TiVo smart TVs under brands including Vestel, Daewoo, Regal, Hitachi, Telefunken and JVC.


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