TiVo for cord cut­ters still charges monthly fee

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - TECH - Jef­fer­son Gra­ham

TiVo, the com­pany that pop­u­lar­ized the DVR in 1999, has a new unit aimed at cord cut­ters who watch TV with an an­tenna. But un­like Ama­zon’s new, low­er­priced Re­cast DVR, the Bolt OTA DVR still charges a monthly fee for ser­vice.

The fee for the $249.99 box is $6.99 monthly or $69.99 yearly, lower than the $15 TiVo charges for ser­vice with ex­ist­ing DVRs. It will be avail­able Fri­day.

The pitch from TiVo is that the DVR “looks and feels like a high-end ca­ble box,” it said in ex­plain­ing why a DVR that con­nects to an an­tenna charges a monthly fee.

Most DVRs con­nect to ca­ble boxes, and TiVo has long been po­si­tioned as the ul­ti­mate TV fa­natic ac­ces­sory, with a more viewer-friendly pro­gram guide and a unit that sells di­rectly to con­sumers, in­stead of hav­ing to rent it, as most ca­ble cus­tomers do now.

TiVo Vice Pres­i­dent Ted Malone says the com­pany de­cided to reach out to the over-the-air an­tenna mar­ket when it no­ticed it was grow­ing 10 per­cent a year, com­pared with a 5 per­cent de­cline in ca­ble boxes.

TiVo’s former box for cord cut­ters, the $399 Roamio, didn’t have sup­port for 4K view­ing or the abil­ity to stream to mo­bile de­vices, which the new unit can do. The Roamio has been dis­con­tin­ued.

Be­yond the pro­gram guide, Malone says the monthly fee also gets you cus­tomer sup­port and the abil­ity to au­to­mat­i­cally skip over com­mer­cials in cer­tain taped shows. TiVo says it has boxes in more than 1 mil­lion homes.

Mean­while, in an age when many of our fa­vorites are avail­able on de­mand, in such apps as Net­flix and Ama­zon, is there re­ally a need to tape shows any­more? Malone says that’s a ques­tion folks at TiVo grap­ple with all the time.

But as long as con­tent own­ers con­tinue not mak­ing all shows avail­able on de­mand, there will still “be a ben­e­fit to record­ing,” he says.

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