TiVo Targets Cord-Cutters with DVR That Carries $180 in Annual Service Fees

TiVo's over-the-air OTA DVR

Too frugal to pay for cable TV, but still willing to fork over the dough for a super-fancy DVR?

TiVo now has a product aimed at just such a niche group of cord-cutting DVR lovers: The company has announced its first antenna-only DVR, the Roamio OTA.

Priced at $50, the limited-edition DVR is not equipped to receive or record cable or satellite television. According to TiVo, 88% of the most-recorded shows among its customers are available free over-the-air with a digital antenna.

“TiVo is devoted to making the best possible cable TV user experience available through our operator partners and in retail, but we recognize some viewers opt not to receive the benefits a subscription with a cable provider offers,” TiVo marketing chief Ira Bahr said in a statement.

But while the broadcast programming is free, TiVo’s service for the Roamio DVR is not: The company will charge $14.99 per month (and require a one-year contract), amounting to about $180 in annual fees. Competing over-the-air DVR products, such as those from Channel Master, don’t charge ongoing monthly fees.

The $15 monthly fee matches TiVo’s pricing for its other DVR products with a one-year commitment; without a contract, service costs $19.99 per month.

Why does TiVo charge a recurring fee? The company points to a range of features available only through its service. “What to Watch” provides a personalized dashboard with recommendations for what’s on TV now and later, and “Collections” offers editorially curated collections based on current events or categories including new fall TV shows. The DVR’s channel guide includes filters to let users find programming quickly, while Roamio OTA customers can also use TiVo’s apps for smartphones and tablets to manage the device. In addition, the DVR can search across over-the-air TV and popular Internet video services including Netflix and YouTube.

The Roamio OTA can record up to four shows simultaneously, and with 500 gigabytes of storage can record up to 75 hours of HD programming.

The antenna-only DVR is slated to hit shelves at Best Buy stores in select markets mid-September. According to a TiVo rep, “We haven’t put any timelines on the availability other than being really upfront and saying it’s ‘limited’ for now and we’ll see how this goes.”

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  1. Reggie says:

    We might as well just keep using a VCR instead of the tivo…it’s a lot cheaper

  2. Steve Baer says:

    Tivo has a great user interface for over the air use by non-techys. BUT, their subscription fee is far too high (for the guide), and they will not provide a lower cost annual plan. I have Tivo Roamio and love it, But I am looking to replace it due to the subscription cost.

    The hardware that Tivo uses has become quite standard. I’ll bet that in another year or so their current fledgling competitors will provide meaningful competition at a much fairer cost for the guide. At that point Tivo will have lost its monopoly and ability to do predatory pricing.

    If I were a banker or stock investor, I would not put money into this Company. Their ease of use monopoly position will be short lived.

  3. Mike B says:

    Huge fan of Tivo. But their ridiculous fees and lack of support for older products have killed it for me. I paid to transfer lifetime service to an HD box five years ago and paid hundreds of dollars for the privilege. They will never see another dime from me.

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