TiVo has launched a new way for TV viewers to skip through entire commercial breaks on the top 20 cable and broadcast networks with the push of one button. But you’ll have to pay for the privilege.
The company’s Bolt DVR family, launched Wednesday, includes a “SkipMode” feature for instantly fast-forwarding past ad pods in certain programs. Initially, TiVo’s SkipMode-enabled shows are limited to the 20 most-watched channels, including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, seven days a week between the hours of 4 pm and midnight (12:30 am for late-night talk shows airing on ABC, NBC and CBS). SkipMode isn’t available on local news or sports, according to TiVo.
“The TiVo Bolt arrives at a time of piqued interest in both connected devices and commercial avoidance,” president and CEO Tom Rogers said in announcing the feature. “The clear demand of consumers is for a TV experience that quickly delivers them exactly what they want the instant they turn on the screen.”
But to get the ad-skipping and the rest of Bolt’s features, TiVo will charge an annual service fee of $149.99, plus any applicable taxes. The price of the DVRs include one year of free service, after which customers must start paying.
TiVo positions its devices as providing more advanced features than the standard-issue DVRs from pay-TV providers. However, the SkipMode feature comes more than three years after Dish Network launched the Hopper DVR, which includes an ad-break-skipping feature for the big broadcast nets’ primetime lineups. Broadcasters sued Dish over the Hopper’s PrimeTime Anytime ad-zapper, but the satcaster ultimately prevailed in the legal battle.
However, the new Bolt DVRs can lay claim to be the first to support recording of 4K Ultra HD video content — although it’s obviously just for bragging rights, given that no U.S. TV channels currently broadcast in UHD format today.
Bolt also includes a unique feature called QuickMode, a way to watch recorded programs 30% faster while maintaining pitch-corrected audio. That’s designed for “slow-moving programs like news, sports and overly long award shows,” TiVo says.
And, for what it’s worth, the Bolt has a new design with a smaller (11.4-by-7.3-by-1.8 inches) and lighter (1.9 pounds) form factor than previous generation TiVos.
The TiVo Bolt with 500 gigabytes of storage is available for $299.99, and the 1-terabyte model lists at $399.99. Both are available via TiVo.com, BestBuy.com and Amazon.com, and in stores at participating retailers starting Oct. 4.