Over the Top and over the Air

TiVo’s New DVR Could Be a Cord-Cutter’s Dream

TiVo_Bolt_lLast Thursday, TiVo, the company synonymous with digital video recorders (DVRs), introduced its latest device, the Bolt OTA. This new product aims to cover all of the needs of viewers who don’t have a cable subscription. It works with so-called over-the-top video services, or video services delivered over the Internet, and can capture broadcast TV when hooked up to a high-definition antenna.

TiVo’s latest DVR brings together online streaming content and over-the-air services, without the need to rent equipment from a pay-TV provider, making this an optimized solution for cord-cutters. TiVo has previously targeted this user community with DVRs that could hook into streaming services, but it’s doubling down with its newest product.

The company believes it’s addressing drawbacks that many cord-cutters are experiencing, namely, the lack of old-fashioned broadcast programming. It seems there’s still something to be said about linear TV. TiVo will be hoping that its over-the-air receiver is the solution to these shortcomings. The device gives viewers access on one user interface to more than 20 built-in streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Plex and YouTube, as well as TV channels that are available in their local area. The Bolt OTA costs about $250 and will require a subscription to the company’s integrated TiVo service for about $7 per month, $70 per year or a one-time fee of around $250, which will cover access for the lifetime of the device.

TiVo launched its new product only days after Amazon unveiled a DVR companion device called the Fire TV Recast (see Instant Insight: Amazon Unveils a Barrage of Alexa Hardware, Software and Features). In contrast to TiVo’s offering, the Fire TV Recast doesn’t require customers to take a monthly subscription, making it attractive for customers really looking to cut monthly fees, although it does lack some of the features of TiVo’s product.

The announcement of support for over-the-air content from two big names is a sign of the US market’s growing awareness of the availability of free-to-air programming. With the right antenna, many of the core channels are available in digital high-definition at no cost to viewers depending on their location.

For cable companies, this is one more factor causing the loss of video customers and they will have to keep adapting their strategies to work around changing consumer behaviour.