TiVo releasing box for cord-cutters in quest to reclaim subscribers

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TiVo's new "Roamio OTA" box. (Photo: TiVo/supplied)

TiVo’s new “Roamio OTA” box. (Photo: TiVo/supplied)

TiVo is releasing a new set-top box aimed at consumers who primarily receive their television with an antenna and over the Internet.

The new $50 box, dubbed the “TiVo Roamio OTA,” is designed to offer customers a “simple, brilliant and legal” way to watch and record live broadcast television signals without a cable or satellite subscription, according to a press release issued on Monday.

TiVo is devoted to making the best possible cable TV user experience available through our operator partners and in retail, but we recognize some viewers opt not to receive the benefits a subscription with a cable provider offers,” TiVo executive Ira Bahr said in the release. “TiVo Roamio OTA makes sure that they too can get a best in class DVR experience through an antenna, including our world renowned interface and industry defining recording capability at our most affordable price point ever.”

The new Roamio OTA comes with the same TiVo software that is found on the more-expensive cable-only boxes, as well as TiVo’s suite of “apps” for Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube. It also comes with TiVo’s world-famous interface that can record four over-the-air programs simultaneously.

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For years, TiVo has primarily targeted cable subscribers with its retail boxes. This has proven problematic as customers look to other services to save money. Since 2011, more than a million households have ditched their TiVo subscriptions as cord-cutters look to streaming media solutions in the face of rising cable bills.

TiVo is hoping their new Roamio OTA box will attract those who want both Netflix and the ability to record network shows or the occasional sports program. But the new box still comes with TiVo’s lofty $15-a-month subscription fee (or a one-time fee of $500 for the life of the box), which primarily funds TiVo’s access to television listings from Tribune Media Services. Without a subscription, TiVo customers can’t program the box to record TV programs — the primary feature of a TiVo.

It’s unclear if TiVo customers are willing to shell out more than $150 a year solely for the ability to record network television. TiVo will test the waters by releasing the “Romaio OTA” in limited quantities at select Best Buy stores in mid-September.