Elbowing its way into a crowded market of streaming platforms, TiVo has officially launched the Stream 4K at retail, a move that comes about five months after TiVo unveiled the product at CES.
To prime the pump, TiVo is pitching its new dongle at the introductory price of $49.99, a $20 discount off its regular price, plus free shipping and no additional fees.
As a move away from TiVo's legacy, set-top-like platforms encumbered by CableCARDs, gobs of on-board storage and other older technologies, the more streamlined, dongle-sized TiVo Stream 4K is powered by Android TV and supports 4K, Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos, voice control (via Google Assistant) and access to a cloud DVR.
The TiVo Stream 4K is also integrated with a multitude of apps from Google Play, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Tubi, Newsy and USA Today, as well as TiVo+, a new free, ad-supported streaming service that offers almost 50 streaming "channels" across genres such as news, sports, kids, food, music and comedy.
Sling TV, the Dish Network-owned, OTT-delivered pay-TV service, is the "preferred live streaming TV partner" for the TiVo Stream 4K (tied into that promotion, TiVo is also offering a seven-day free trial of Sling TV to Stream 4K purchasers).
TiVo will use the platform to break into a streaming market that is dominated by Amazon Fire TV (more than 40 million active accounts), Roku (36.9 million active accounts by the end of 2019) and Apple TV.
TiVo will also have to contend with other retail streaming devices and platforms that run on Android TV. Google itself is preparing to launch a new Android TV streaming device/dongle that will feature a new UI and put a greater emphasis on individual shows and movies and possibly take on the Nest brand, according to Protocol.
Meanwhile, Comcast has entered the streaming arena with Xfinity Flex, a product being offering for free to the cable op's broadband-only customers.
TiVo has also expressed its intention to distribute the Stream 4K in partnership with cable operator partners that are seeking to maintain or establish a video relationship with their broadband-only customers. Schurz Communication is the first announced cable op to make such a commitment. Several other US pay-TV providers, including WideOpenWest, have launched or trialed IP-based pay-TV products that rely on devices using the Android TV Operator Tier.
TiVo is placing its streaming bet amid a proposed merger with Xperi announced in February.
"For better or for worse, we are going in one direction here, and we're all-in on the TiVo Stream product," TiVo CEO David Shull said early this year at an investor conference just prior to the Xperi announcement. "My first [priority] is I've got to get us into the streaming wars... I've got to make a win in the streaming wars."
TiVo is fortuitously entering the market with a low-cost platform (by way of comparison, the relatively new TiVo Edge starts at $399.99) during a pandemic in which millions of US consumers are hunkered down at home and tapping into streaming services at accelerated rates.
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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading