TiVo’s chief revenue officer, Matt Milne, said the company’s new consumer-grade streaming device, the TiVo Stream 4K, should hit the market in “the next few weeks.”
Speaking during a keynote session last Tuesday (April 28) during the Virtual Next TV Summit, part of Future’s Virtual NYC TV Week Spring, Milne said TiVo product developers have been working at home amid the pandemic to get the Android TV-based OTT device ready to market.
At CES in January, where TiVo introduced the $70 dongle and successfully created buzz for it, the company touted an April release date for the TiVo Stream 4K.
The TiVo 4K Stream will have access to all the apps available in the Google Play Store via Android TV. What will make it different from other OTT devices, Milne said, is its ability to tap TiVo’s sizable search and discover resources.
“We’re investing well over $100 million a year at a foundational level to help people with discovery,” he said. “This is a product built for the streaming wars. It’s built to bring all that content together.”
Users of streaming services, Milne said, spend an average of 11 minutes searching among an average of seven subscription VOD, AVOD and other OTT programming sources for a movie, TV show, or news or sports event.
The TiVo 4K Stream will allow users to navigate their apps through the traditional “Gemstar grid,” Milne said. But it will also offer a separate user interface based on TiVo’s proprietary search and discovery UI.
TiVo, he said, will become a “neutral third party,” with SVOD and AVOD platforms available to, in turn, anonymously monitor app usage through its platform.
TiVo isn’t totally neutral — it recently launched its own AVOD platform, TiVo Plus. Milne didn’t say whether or not TiVo Plus has any kind of priority status in terms of what search and discovery results users might get on TiVo Stream 4K.
“We see this as a merchandiser opportunity,” Milne said. “How do we connect the consumer to the content?”
Also at the Virtual Next TV Summit, a panel of programming executives talked about their services’ place in the streaming world and ways they are adapting. Craig Engler, general manager of AMC Networks-owned Shudder, the horror-themed subscription VOD service, said the disruption in the movie theater world prompted an April 28 “surprise drop” on Shudder of new original movie Blood Quantum that was originally supposed to debut in Alamo Drafthouse theaters. “That’s fun, because it creates excitement for people” who subscribe to the service, Engler said.
Rachel Brill, senior VP and general manager of B/R Studio, at WarnerMedia-owned Bleacher Report, said B/R is moving more toward integrating social and original programming within the app, notably with three days of NFL Draft coverage. The aim is to find shareable moments. “How do you truly create an all encompassing immersive experience for sports fans?” she said.
William Sager, chairman and CEO of The Preview Channel, said the year-old, OTT-delivered service plans to add new channels devoted to previews and trailers about video games and classic movies. “We are off and running” and serving passionate fans of games and movies, he said.
Brendon Thomas, VP of distribution at Viacom-owned Pluto TV, said at the ad-supported (free) VOD service “we do see ourselves a bit more as programmers than aggregators,” focused on optimizing the content it has used to create more than 250 “live linear-like channels” plus on-demand programming.
Kent Gibbons contributed to this story.