TiVo, the company that popularized the DVR starting back in 1999, has a new unit aimed at cord-cutters who watch TV with an antenna. But unlike Amazon’s new, lower priced Recast DVR, the Bolt OTA DVR still charges a monthly fee for service.
The fee for the $249.99 box is $6.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly, which is lower than the $15 TiVo charges for service with existing DVRs. It will be available Friday.
The pitch from TiVo is that the DVR “looks and feels like a high-end cable box,” it said in explaining why a DVR that connects to an antenna charges a monthly fee.
Most DVRs connect to cable boxes, and TiVo has long been positioned as the ultimate TV fanatic accessory, with a more viewer-friendly program guide, and a unit that sells directly to consumers, instead of having to rent it, as most cable customers do now.
TiVo vice-president Ted Malone says the company decided to reach out to the over-the-air antenna market when it noticed it was growing 10% a year, compared to a 5% decline in cable boxes.
While many cut the cord to just enjoy apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime, Malone says many customers still want to see broadcast and cable TV, and record shows after they’ve ditched cable.
TiVo’s former box for cord-cutters, the $399 Roamio, didn’t have support for 4K viewing or the ability to stream to mobile devices, which the new unit can do. (It’s been discontinued.)
Beyond the program guide, Malone says the monthly fee also gets you customer support and the ability to automatically skip over commercials in certain taped shows.
TiVo says it has boxes in over 1 million homes.
Meanwhile, in an age where many of our favorites are available on demand, in apps like Netflix and Amazon, is there really a need to tape shows anymore?
Malone says that’s a question folks at TiVo grapple with all the time, especially as it sees increased usage of Netflix and other apps and less DVR recording. But he thinks for now, binge watchers are enjoying taping shows and catching up, even as they watch their online shows.
As long as content owners continue to not make all shows available on demand, there will still “be a benefit to recording,” he says.
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