DVR pioneer Tivo isn’t ready to cede the cord cutting market to Amazon and its new Fire TV Recast: The company is releasing a new version of its Bolt DVR this Friday that’s squarely aimed at people without cable television.
The new Tivo Bolt OTA is capable of recording up to four programs at the same time, and stores up to 150 hours of recordings on its internal hard drive. The device is solely made for recording over-the-air (OTA) television from networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, and won’t work with cable subscriptions.
Just like other models from the company’s Bolt line-up, the Bolt OTA is also offering access to streaming apps from companies like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. It ships with a voice-enabled remote, and supports streaming to mobile devices out of the box.
“There is a lot of growth opportunity in the OTA market,” said Tivo’s vice president of consumer products and services Ted Malone in an interview with Variety. He added that recorded over-the-air broadcast TV was a great addition even for consumers who get most of their programming from streaming services, thanks to the availability of local sports as well as uncompressed HD picture quality. “There are some cases where OTA is really the best solution,” he said.
The utility of free over-the-air TV hasn’t been lost on the rest of the industry. A number of companies has been trying to reinvent the DVR for a new generation of consumers used to streaming. This includes startups like Tablo and Plex, as well as big players like Dish and its AirTV offshoot, and most recently Amazon with its new Fire TV Recast DVR.
Asked about the competition, Malone argued that Tivo was benefitting from its experience. “We’ve been building OTA DVRs for 19 years,” he said. “We have the DVR feature set down.”
At the same time, Malone had to admit that some of those newcomers were undercutting Tivo. Amazon, for instance, doesn’t charge consumers any service fees for its new DVR. “Will it be more expensive? Yes, we are a little bit more expensive,” Malone said.
The company is trying to appeal to cord cutters and other price-conscious consumers by reducing the monthly fee it is charging for the use of the TiVo Bolt OTA. Instead of the regular $14.99 service plan, Tivo is charging OTA customers just $6.99 per month. The device itself costs $249.99.
Malone admitted that some consumers may opt for cheaper options, but he also argued that his company was targeting subsets of cord cutters not well served by other solutions. This included people who had cancelled cable but felt like they were missing something, as well as consumers still hanging on to their pay TV subscription because they’re used to their cable DVR. “Some people really like that pay TV-like experience,” he said.