TiVo’s Roamio OTA Adds Storage, Loses Subscription Fee

Takes new competitive angle against Channel Master’s DVR
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TiVo has added storage and eliminated monthly subscription service fees for the Roamio OTA, an HD-DVR wth OTT capabilities targeted at cord-cutters that also crosses swords with Channel Master’s subscription-less OTA-OTT DVR combo.

TiVo new Roamio OTA, which goes on sale on May 2 at TiVo.com, BestBuy.com, Amazon.com and some Best Buy brick and mortar stores, will feature a 1 terabyte hard drive and sell for $399.99, which covers lifetime access to the underlying TiVo service.  It's also integrated with OTT apps from partners such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and YouTube.

After unveiling a “limited edition” of the Roamio OTA in the fall of 2014, TiVo went national with the product in January 2015. That version sold for $49.99, came equipped with a 500 Gigabyte hard drive (but with no CableCARD slot), and required users to pay $14.99 per month for the TiVo service.

The new model will also sport four tuners as well as some relatively new TiVo features such as the controversial SkipMode as well as QuickMode – elements that were originally offered on the 4K-capable TiVo Bolt but were recently extended to its Roamio product family.

The Roamio OTA is also compatible with the TiVo Mini (for multi-room set-ups) as well as TiVo Stream, the company’s Slingbox-like place-shifting device.

Removing the monthly subscription fee will put the Roamio OTA on better completive footing with Channel Master’s DVR+,  which in January added Sling TV, Dish Network’s OTT-TV streaming platform, to its app mix, and sells its comparable 1 TB model for $399.

TiVo’s new OTA offering also emerges amid reports that Dish Network corporate cousins Sling Media and EchoStar are nearing the launch of AirTV, a device that will purportedly also support Sling TV’s service as well as an digital OTA tuner.

TiVo, naturally, believes that it’s got a superior product for the category.

"The TiVo Roamio OTA 1TB is in a class of its own," Ira Bahr, TiVo's chief marketing and retail sales officer, said in a statement. "It delivers the unparalleled TiVo DVR experience, as well as an intuitive integration between free over-the-air HD channels and major streaming services. No other device brings everything you watch together into one single, easy-to-use interface."

Though targeted at a small but growing group of cord-cutters, the Roamio OTA could help to expand TiVo’s retail customer base. It ended its fiscal Q4 with 6.8 million subs – 5.47 million via MSO partnerships and 971,000 that are retail/“TiVo-owned,” and just announced that its aggregate subscriber base has eclipsed 7 million.

TiVo has yet to announce plans to offer an OTA/OTT-only version of the  Bolt. The current Bolt can handle OTA signals, but also comes with a CableCARD slot.

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