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TiVo's New Roamio for Cord Cutters Cuts the Subscription Fee

By David Jones TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
Apr 29, 2016 10:58 AM PT
tivo-roamio-ota-dvr

TiVo on Wednesday announced a new version of its Roamio OTA digital video recorder aimed at the growing market of cable cord cutters, with a box that includes a hefty 1 TB of storage space and no monthly subscription fee.

The DVR can record up to 150 hours of high-definition programming and up to four television shows at the same time, the company said.

The device can access content from OTA network television, including ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and Univision, as well as content from streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and YouTube.

Updates Original

The new Roamio updates the original Roamio OTA DVR, which was launched as a limited edition in 400 Best Buy stores in 2014 at a price of US$49.99. That DVR, which was aimed at cord cutters, had a capacity of 75 hours of high-definition programming and 500 GB of storage space.

TiVo rolled out the DVR nationally in 2015, expanding availability to BestBuy.com, Amazon and TiVo.com.

The original Roamio required a $14.99 monthly fee and a minimum one-year commitment.

It includes some of the same standard features of the company's other DVRs, such as SkipMode, which allows viewers to skip commercials while viewing recorded shows; QuickMode, which lets viewers watch shows at a 30 percent faster clip due to pitch-corrected audio; and OnePass technology.

The device will be available for a one-time price of $399.99.

Monthly Margin

TiVo recognizes that cord cutters watch OTA television often to avoid the high cost of cable television. "A $15 monthly fee is clearly an impediment to these people," said Michael Goodman, director of digital media strategies at Strategy Analytics.

"TiVo has always had its foot in both" pay versus OTA camps, he told TechNewsWorld. "This is clearly taking a position, at least where this product is concerned, that cost is clearly an issue."

The much-reported trend of cord-cutting, while on the increase, is not as widespread as commonly believed. A large number of television viewers still subscribe to some form of cable television, Goodman said, noting that when analyzing subscribers leaving cable, the number of new customers is often left out of the totals.

Twenty-six percent of survey respondents said they plan to watch broadcast or video on demand programming via subscription, versus 72 percent who say they will pay to watch via a traditional TV connection, according to the results of a worldwide study Nielsen released last month.

In North America, 35 percent said they pay for an online service, the company found.

Just last week, TiVo reported that it has 7 million subscribers in North America and Europe, an increase of 27 percent since January 2015.

Competing for Cord Cutters

One of the main competitors to TiVo is Tablo, an OTA DVR service that offers a four-tuner service for $299 and has a subscription fee of $4.99 a month or $149.99 for the lifetime of the device. The service is sold through TabloTV.com, Bestbuy.com, NewEgg and Amazon.

The Roamio "remains a legacy-style DVR, one that connects to a single TV and requires additional proprietary hardware to get that content to other TVs and mobile devices in the home," said Tablo spokesperson Laura Slater.

"While some might be intrigued by the all-in pricing, we feel that network-based DVRs like Tablo are the future of this type of technology," she told TechNewsWorld.

"Cord cutters are tired of being stuck with single-use hardware and want to watch what they want, when they want and on the device they choose," Slater added.

Despite the growth of streaming services, there are many benefits to being able to record television shows and watch them later rather than view them online, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"The nature of broadcast TV makes it easier to record many programs than to stream them," he told TechNewsWorld. "That's mainly because some broadcasters limit access to popular programs unless you buy into premium packages, and you also face long commercial breaks."

The OTA recorder helps address a continual problem with cord cutters, which is how to manage all of the content coming in from various streaming and OTA providers, said Mike Jude, program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

The Roamio likely will resonate strongly with cord cutters, he told TechNewsWorld, "because it enables consumers to manage over-the-top content as they would conventional subscription video."


David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.


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What do you think of today's voice recognition technology?
It's great -- the tech has improved vastly in recent years.
It's the wave of the future, but quality is still hit or miss.
I like it for texting, especially when I'm driving.
I only use it when I have to, like with IVR systems.
I avoid using it, because most voice systems are still terrible.
It's an unnecessary frill that I can easily live without.