DVR maker Tivo is getting ready to release a new device that may not record television at all: The company plans to launch a $50 Roku-like TV dongle early next year, its new CEO Dave Shull revealed in a conversation with CNN this week.
The new device will be powered by Google’s Android TV platform, Shull said. It will offer access to streaming services, and also make content recommendations based on Tivo’s curation software, but likely not include a TV tuner necessary to record broadcast or cable programming. Shull told CNN that he hoped to double Tivo’s customer base to 50 million with the help of the TV dongle.
In addition to launching new hardware, Tivo is also looking to unveil a new curation service next month. Dubbed Tivo+, the new service is meant to curate and aggregate content from a variety of publishers, similar to the way Roku does it with its Roku Channel. Tivo+ is expected to be free at launch, but we shouldn’t be too surprised to see the company move towards selling third-party subscription services through the app at some point as well.
Speaking of advertising: Tivo has also been testing advertising on its existing DVRs, playing video ad prerolls before consumers can watch their TV recordings, according to Zatznotfunny.com. This is a somewhat ironic move, since the company has been offering users ways to skip ad breaks within their TV recordings for some time.
Tivo is currently in the midst of its latest round of restructuring: The company is splitting up its patent licensing business and its Tivo business line into two separate entities, with Shull telling CNN that this process should conclude next year.
All of these changes — new hardware, a new focus on ad-supported content and a new corporate structure — are responses to a series of business challenges. Tivo’s retail business has been on a decline for years, as consumers move to replace DVRs with cheaper streaming devices that don’t require monthly usage fees. The company’s operator business in the U.S. has also cooled, with most of Tivo’s recent revenue growth coming from international operators.