TiVo officially made its entrance into the streaming device universe earlier this month, but it could take time for the company to start meaningfully eating away at the market share of the Roku and Amazon Fire TVs of the world.
The device’s two main selling points are: a) its interface that integrates various SVODs with the aim of eliminating the need to switch in and out of various apps and b) its tight integration with Sling TV that integrates the vMVPD’s content into the Tivo interface and within its universal search results.
These features definitely will help enhance the Stream 4K browsing experience. But they’re not completely novel concepts in the streaming universe, and more money must be spent, comparatively speaking, to get the full value out of these features.
For one, “integrate-it-all” is one of the key attributes of Apple’s TV app that houses Apple TV+, which has struggled to gain traction in the SVOD marketplace since launching. In fact, the way Apple’s TV app tries to combine multiple SVODs in the aim of creating one cohesive browsing experience is the reason some consumers find its UI frustrating.
Second, Tivo gives consumers a seven-day free trial of Sling when they purchase the Stream 4K. But after that, Stream 4K users will need to pay for a Sling subscription (which ranges from $30 to $45 per month), if they want to have access to Sling content in the long term. For those that have another preferred vMVPD (or don’t need vMVPD access), having Sling content so tightly integrated into the Stream 4K interface is unnecessary, and potentially even burdensome (perhaps a YouTube TV user only wants YouTube TV results to pop up in universal search, for example).
It’s not like these are devastating faults for the Stream 4K, but it does make the streaming device appear less differentiated than initially marketed, which could be an issue given the device is relatively expensive for a 4K streamer (it will cost $70 after its introductory pricing of $50 ends after May 27; the Fire TV 4K and Roku 4K sticks are also $50).
This indicates that Roku and Amazon’s leading positions (see chart), in terms of connected TV view hours share, may not change soon due to the Stream 4K.
This is all not to say that the Stream 4K will necessarily flop. It will probably benefit from TiVo loyalists who are looking to bulk up their OTT streaming capabilities, especially since the Stream 4K offers free content on apps like TiVo+.
It’s just that TiVo can’t bank on loyalists alone in the long term if it wants to gain as much connected TV viewing hours as leaders like Roku and Amazon, which are already growing their reach by integrating into more hardware.