New TiVo DVRs Top Cable Efforts
To paraphrase Pat Benatar: Put another notch in TiVo Inc.'s lipstick case.
The DVR pioneer launched three new set-tops this week, and the high end of the product line puts cable's notion of TV Everywhere to shame. In particular, the two higher-end TiVo Roamio Plus and TiVo Roamio Pro boxes both enable streaming of live and recorded programming to multiple video screens inside or outside the home. Users can also download shows to an iOS device for offline viewing, and TiVo says Android support is on the way.
Cable companies have pushed hard with TV Everywhere services that enable subscribers to watch select programming over the Internet, or to stream live linear content to multiple screens within a home WiFi network. However, there's been limited effort to extend those multi-screen services beyond the home and give consumers access to their entire cable lineup on the go, due mainly to content rights issues. (See Time Warner Takes TV on the Road.)
Satellite TV providers have been more progressive. Dish Network Corp. has its Hopper DVR with integrated Slingbox functionality, while DirecTV Group Inc. upgraded its GenieGO place-shifting app in May to let users stream recorded content to PCs and iOS devices over any WiFi connection. (See DirecTV Takes DVR Over Wi-Fi.)
So far, the new TiVo line of DVRs is getting rave reviews.
Starting at $199, the TiVo Roamio standard version offers four TV tuners, CableCARD compatibility, 802.11n WiFi, a 500-gigabyte hard drive, apps for several on-demand video services like Netflix and Hulu, and HD antenna support for access to free, over-the-air broadcast networks.
At $399 and $599 respectively, the TiVo Roamio Plus and TiVo Roamio Pro don't support an HD antenna. But they both feature larger hard drives and more tuners, in addition to the advanced place-shifting features. The Roamio Plus includes six tuners and one terabyte of storage space. The Roamio Pro sports six tuners and three terabytes of storage capacity.
Current cable DVRs can't compete with the new TiVo boxes, but cable operators may pick up their own supply of Roamio DVRs in the future. Several major MSOs are already TiVo customers, including Virgin Media Inc., RCN Corp., Charter Communications Inc., Suddenlink Communications, Mediacom Communications Corp., and General Communication Inc. (GCI), among others. (See Mediacom Goes With TiVo and GCI, Pace Boost TiVo's Software Aspirations.)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable