TiVo Explores New Over-The-Air Frontier

Frontier To Pitch Roamio OTA Model To Broadband-Only Subs
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Frontier Communications has become the first MVPD to ink a deal to offer a co-branded version of the TiVo Roamio OTA, a new HD-DVR model from TiVo initially sold at retail that provides access to a mix of over-the-air broadcast TV and over-the-top content from sources such as Netflix and YouTube.

In a move that targets a group of so-called “cord-cutters” and consumers who have resisted subscribing to traditional pay-TV services, Frontier will pitch the Roamio OTA to its base of broadband-only customers starting in mid-2015. Frontier has about 2.37 million high-speed subs overall, a number that’s poised to shoot past 4.6 million after the telco completes a proposed $10.5 billion deal to buy wireline operations from Verizon Communications in parts of California, Florida and Texas.

TiVo introduced the $49.99 Roamio OTA DVR last August as a “limited edition” model, and expanded to full-on national distribution last month. TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers previously has acknowledged that TiVo has been talking with operators about an MVPD-optimized version of the OTA model, which does not contain a CableCARD slot, but is outfitted with 500 Gigabytes of storage, four tuners, Ethernet connectivity, and built-in 802.11n WiFi.

The multi-year agreement with Frontier is also TiVo’s first with a U.S.-based telco, and won’t be limited to the Roamio OTA. The partnership will also give Frontier the option to distribute the TiVo Mini (an IP-only HD client device),  TiVo Stream (a Slingbox-like video transcoding sidecar), and couple those products to TiVo’s Web, iOS and Android apps.

TiVo said it also expects that Frontier will offer TiVo to its FiOS TV subscribers after the initial deployment phase involving the Roamio OTA. Verizon FiOS TV currently uses boxes from Arris/Motorola equipped with CableCARDs.

“TiVo’s latest generation OTA platform enables us to launch a game-changing new service with delivery of the best of broadcast television, seamlessly integrated with over-the-top video, bundled with Frontier’s high-speed data service,” Frontier COO Dan McCarthy said, in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for our customers and a compelling strategic product for Frontier.  We believe this is a model for a cost-effective, far-reaching video service of the future and look forward to it becoming a primary TV offer for our high-speed Internet only customers.”

“We’re proud to partner with Frontier on the next generation of video,” added TiVo CFO and SVP of corporate strategy Naveen Chopra. “This innovative offering opens up the wealth of content available over the air and via streaming services and simplifies the user experience with a great interface and high-speed Internet bundle from Frontier. From billing to installation to hitting ‘play’ this could be the simplest and most cost-effective way to get great television into your home and onto all your devices.” 

TiVo ended its fiscal third quarter with 5.1 million subs (4.2 million with pay-TV partners, and 928,000 TiVo-owned). The company is scheduled to report fourth quarter results on March 3.