TiVo enters a crowded market with new streaming TV device

(Image: Handout/Graphic: The Desk)

A new streaming TV device is launching in April from a household name recognized by television lovers for decades.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, TiVo announced it would launch a new Android-based streaming TV set-top box that will help cordcutters find movies and TV shows suited to their interests.

The TiVo Stream 4K is smaller than a deck of cards, but it’s just as powerful — if not moreso — than competing set-top boxes offered by Amazon, Roku and Apple. At launch, the TiVo Stream 4K will integrate with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, YouTube and other third-party services. Those apps will tap into TiVo’s search-and-recommendation engines that will help TV watchers find movies and shows easier while also suggesting new ones that might be of interest to them.

The device will also come with Dish Network’s Sling TV right out of the box. Subscribers will be able to see TV listings for Sling TV from a search function on the box’s universal remote, which looks very similar to the peanut-shaped remote that shipped with TiVo’s legacy DVR boxes. The remote includes a button for the Google Assistant, which will be built-in to the device.

Other apps offered through the Android TV store will also be available on TiVo, though it’s not clear if they will integrate natively with TiVo’s search-and-recommendation function.

“With TiVo Stream 4K, we have created a dramatically better experience for viewers who are tired of hunting through apps and interfaces to find the amazing content available through online content providers,” TiVo president Dave Shull said in a press release. “We are excited to help TV lovers and occasional viewers alike make the most of their time in front of the screen and bring together the best of the streaming and TV experiences.”

Reviewers who managed to get their hands on the new device were generally receptive to its offerings.

“This is exactly the kind of experience I’ve wanted streaming device makers to build for years, but I never expected TiVo to crack the code first,” tech journalist Jared Newman wrote in his TechHive column.

Newman reported TiVo was hoping to offer the consumer device to cable companies as well, who could then bundle the TiVo Stream 4K with Internet service, allowing cordcutters access to TV shows and movies through streaming services while saving money on their bills.

Likely in anticipation of this move, Amazon announced earlier this month it had struck a deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative to offer its 750 members access to Fire TV hardware for a discount. The deal is non-exclusive, meaning NCTC members can choose between discounted Amazon hardware or TiVo hardware, or offer customers the option of both.

TiVo has not announced a similar partnership, though it did say in a press release earlier this month nearly a dozen cable companies have signed on to offer TiVo-branded Android boxes to customers.

The TiVo Stream 4K will be available through TiVo’s website and at brick-and-mortar stores for a promotional price of $50 at launch. It’s expected to eventually retail for $70.

Thanks for reading and supporting The Desk. If you have a question, comment or news tip, send a message by email or text, or connect on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Also, check out our new membership service The Desk: Pro Access for exclusive reporting, news scoops and in-depth analysis.