An AI-Powered TiVo Retrospective

This post was computer-generated, with very minor human editing, by OpenAI’s newly public Chatbot technology, seeded by my directive to: Write an article describing how TiVo pioneered the television industry with a time-shifting DVR. Include a discussion of ads, both how TiVo empowers us to skip but also runs its own pre-roll advertising.

TiVo is a brand of digital video recorder (DVR) that was first introduced in 1999. The TiVo DVR allowed users to record television programs and watch them at a later time, a feature known as time shifting. This revolutionary technology fundamentally changed the way that people watched television, and it paved the way for many of the advancements in the industry that we see today.

One of the key features of the TiVo DVR is the ability to skip commercials. This feature empowers viewers to control their own viewing experience and avoid the annoying and often repetitive ads that are a staple of traditional television. The ability to skip ads has been a major selling point for TiVo, and it has helped the brand to stand out in a crowded market.

However, it is important to note that TiVo also runs its own pre-roll advertising. These are short ads that play before a recorded program begins, and they cannot be automatically skipped like other commercials. While some viewers may find these pre-roll ads annoying, they are an important source of revenue for TiVo, and they help to support the development of new features and improvements to the DVR.

In addition to its time shifting and commercial skipping capabilities, the TiVo DVR also offers a number of other useful features. For example, the TiVo DVR has a user-friendly interface that allows users to easily search for and record their favorite shows, and it offers personalized recommendations based on their viewing habits. The TiVo DVR also allows users to stream their recorded content to other devices, such as smartphones and tablets, so they can watch their favorite shows on the go.

Overall, TiVo has been a pioneer in the television industry, and its time shifting DVR has been a game-changer for viewers. While the brand may run its own pre-roll advertising, it also empowers users to skip commercials and take control of their own viewing experience. The innovations introduced by TiVo have been widely adopted by other companies in the industry, and they have helped to make television more convenient and enjoyable for consumers.

18 thoughts on “An AI-Powered TiVo Retrospective”

  1. Haha nice.

    I also had an article queued up about security/privacy concerns running Eufy, Wzye, etc cameras but, while likely accurate, it was a bit too inflammatory and I didn’t want to hear from anyone’s legal department. Figured this’d be more fun and innocuous.

  2. Well the article at least gave me some idea of when I first bought a Tivo. It was the DirecTV “DTivo.” The wife thought I was crazy at the time, but it was on sale for something under $200. Much less than the $600 I paid for my first DVD player about the same time.

  3. @Jay – That PowerKey article mentions TiVo… For Roamio devices with CableCards (e.g. on Comcast) does this suggest that they’ll no longer work? Or Comcast and/or TiVo might come up with a fix by “getting a message to the CableCard” or some other TiVo change? Perhaps by then I will finally wean myself but I still haven’t found anything that collects and presents the few shows I watch from “live tv” as well as TiVo.

    I still shake my head that TiVo didn’t come up with a way to help TiVo owners “cut the cord” and present a similar UI but for OTT content (and aggregate the back end billing for all of the separate services one would need in order to present the same channels and/or shows that one used to get from Cable).

    What do TiVo owners move to when finally cutting the cord or pulling the plug? YouTube TV? Dish? Hulu? Something else?

  4. For those with some technical acumen and not completely cutting cable or OTA, Channels DVR is the best option. In my household, we run Channels – originally with HDHR Prime for CableCARD, but now just doing OTA. We also rotate in a number of streaming services without commercials (like Hulu and Discovery+) to partially replicate the cable DVR experience but without requiring any forethought. I have no need for the heft of a full-on cable replacement like YouTube TV. Several have tried to aggregate the streaming services into a unified front-end, but the results are mixed and Netflix doesn’t play ball.

  5. @Steve – it’s all about the CableCard in that case. So will see if they can push a fix to the card. I’ll bet they figure out a way, but don’t have any inside info.

  6. I have read this issue about pre-roll advertising on TiVo many times. I have been using a TiVo device of one kind or another for more than 20 years and have never seen this pre-roll advertising. I watch almost nothing live and I have yet to see anything extra added to the playback of a recording. What am I doing right?

  7. What model do you have and are you running the Hydra interface? I did leave the TiVo fold (this was a factor), so it’s entirely possible they’ve moved on from pre-roll ads. Especially, beyond the annoyance, as it could crash TiVo Minis.

  8. Okay, I believe it’s completely possible they may have moved past this but I want to emphasize that I have never ever seen one of these pre-roll advertisements you talk about.
    I currently have online a XL4 Premier and a Bolt and a Mini connected to one of them.
    I have a lifetime subscription on the Premier but I still pay an annual fee for the Bolt although I’m not exactly sure why.

  9. Been using TiVo since ReplayTV and have several Roamios, Premier, and Bolt and mini none of them on Hydra and never seen the pre roll stuff. Think that must be Hydra only. I still like TiVo but since Rovio the guide data has gone to poop. I also dabble with Channels w/TVE and HDHR (clear QAM) but TiVo is still primary for the WAF. When FiOS drops CC will be when I get serious/drop TiVo unless the guide data continues to decline.

  10. @Gary – sounds like you never upgraded to the new Tivo Experience, so you don’t see the pre-rolls. Consider yourself lucky. Seems like many people who did the upgrade did not like it better, and I think it was not possible (or difficult) to roll back to the prior version.

  11. Re: PowerKeys and TiVo …and Optimum (oh my!)

    I have 2 TiVos with CableCard (Roamio Pro and Edge) with Optimum as my provider, and I’ve been wondering which will come first: Optimum issues a death announcement for (1) CableCards, or (2) TV service over Coax.

    Optimum has rolled out fiber almost everywhere on Long Island and at some point they’re going to want to stop delivering TV over coax, which will kill my TiVos. (Unlike Verizon Fios, Optimum’s Fiber service is not compatible with TiVo.)

    With this PowerKey impact to CableCards, I don’t see Optimum wanting to spend ANY effort to “fix” CableCards – instead, I expect they’ll hit the CC customers first with end-of-life notices and maybe offer deals to move to Fiber TV.

    Either way, I see my TiVos as only being useful another 16-20 months before Optimum makes a decision for me. At that point, I start shopping and wonder if Hulu with Live TV will still be around (or absorbed into Disney+) and how much YouTubeTV will cost – and what other new alternatives there will be.

    The question is which comes first: end of CC use at Optimum, or end of Coax TV at Optimum.

    I’ll miss my TiVo – I love watching recordings at 1.5 speed and love commercial skip (as flawed as it occasionally is). :(

  12. I still love my Tivos. Never really minded the pre-roll ads, a single touch of the ff button dismisses them. Really only watch the Tivo recordings for sports, where I love the 30 sec skip. Makes watching football super easy, as most teams run plays about every 35 seconds.
    30 sec skip and responsive ff are either non-existent or hobbled on the streaming services. I can’t stand watching Thursday night football on Amazon, I wait for the later broadcast on NFL network and watch that the next day on the Tivo. Some people might “enjoy” the color commentators, but there are few I think add anything to the game, and Amazon’s crew does not.
    I’ll be sad when cable card is finally retired. I’ll still record OTA on my Bolt, but like Dave, I’ll never go back to a full cable TV sub.

Comments are closed.