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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I used to have cable, but now just watch over-the-air and streaming channels. I cut the cord because of a combination of:

- Cable cost
- Hassles getting Tivo/CableCard/TA to work
- Increased streaming viewing

I have a HD Tivo with lifetime that I use for OTA and it's awesome at that. However, my actual need for a OTA DVR is not that great. I get the networks and a bunch of junk channels, but there's not a whole lot OTA that I'm really interested in watching. If the Tivo died, I don't know that I would get another one. The cost of the box + service would be pretty high for the amount of utility I would get out of it. There are $35 DVR's on amazon which are basically glorified VCRs, but that would be fine for the amount of OTA I watch.

I've seen that Tivo does have some OTA-only models, but they don't really seem to be designed for the OTA customer. They seem to be designed for the Tivo enthusiast who loves Tivo and is willing to pay the higher price. For Tivo to be viable in the OTA market, I think they would need:

- A lower-cost box (smaller disk/no streaming)
- Much lower cost service ($5 or less per month)
- No service option where it acts like a VCR (time/channel record only)
- (optionally) multiple antenna inputs
- On-screen notification when bad signal prevents a Season Pass show from recording.


You can successfully argue that Tivo is the best and should command a premium, but the OTA customer doesn't need a premium DVR. The cable customer with hundreds of channels needs a good DVR, but the OTA customer records fewer shows and a lower-quality DVR will likely be fine. The OTA customer may be using services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc for watching TV, so they likely have other ways other than OTA for many shows.

In my case, I use OTA for late-night talk shows and local news and a couple of network shows. The rest I'm watching from streaming channels.

The low-cost OTA Tivo probably wouldn't need streaming. The OTA customer is going to rely more heavily on streaming services, so they want a premium product for that (Roku, Amazon, Apple). I prefer to use my Roku over Tivo because the UI is better and 99.9999999999% of the streaming channels are available on Roku. Even if the OTA Tivo had streaming, the OTA customer probably wouldn't use it because they likely have a dedicated streaming box.

I wouldn't recommend Tivo for most OTA customers. The high price means that they would really have to love it for the small amount of shows they'd use it for. For most people, I don't think they would really see the value of the box price and $15/mo. But if instead the box was $200 and $5/mo for service (or $0 for VCR-like), I could see a lot of people getting that solution. And then once they've used Tivo for a while, they'd be more likely to look for a Tivo solution if they ever went back to cable.
 

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I think you're in the minority when it comes to not watching network TV. Even for cable customers network TV makes up a majority of content consumed. If you want a streaming only device buy a Roku or FireTV, they're under $100 and require no monthly fee.

Now if you actually watch a lot of network TV then it works out to be relatively cheap. ~$17/mo for 3 years. In most cases you can't even get "life line" service from a cable company for that much and it certainly doesn't offer a DVR. Throw in a Netflix subscription for $9/mo and you're still at less then $30/mo for a pretty substantial amount of content. Even with an internet connection costing $60/mo you're still at about 1/2 what most people pay for cable.
 

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I'm a Roamio OTA guy, picked up one with lifetime for $300 on that secret sale last spring. It's my first-ever TiVo but I've had other various satellite & cable DVRs in the past. Since first getting it, I've hoped that TiVo could become my "one box to rule them all," smartly and conveniently combining live and recorded OTA TV with all the streaming options I want: Showtime, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO and Netflix. (CBSN would be nice too.) In some ways, my TiVo has gotten better since I bought it but, honestly, it's still lacking when it comes to streaming. Some of the apps are just buggy and clunky and, as others have often pointed out on threads here, it will likely never be as good at streaming as dedicated streaming boxes like Apple TV or Fire TV.

If I were doing it all again, at this point I might just buy a Fire TV and use that for streaming commercial-free Hulu, which gives me (among other stuff) all the major OTA network content except CBS and PBS. Those two networks' shows can be streamed for free (without ads!) using the CBS and PBS channel plug-ins for Plex. I would imagine that the Amazon Video app for Fire TV is first-class, and that's where I watch stuff from Amazon Prime Video plus Showtime. (I could also add Starz to my Amazon subscription if I wanted.) Fire TV also has updated versions (I think) of the HBO NOW and HBO GO apps, plus a decent Netflix app.

At that point, the only thing I would really be missing is the ability to pause and rewind live TV, plus have a channel guide to see what's currently playing. But then I think one of those cheap $35 jobs on Amazon could provide that, with no recurring monthly fee.

Yes, I would have to switch inputs between live TV and the Fire TV for streaming but honestly, I still can't get away from switching inputs even now as I rely on my Apple TV most of the time for Hulu, plus also go to it quite a bit these days for live news from the free CBSN app (which is also available on Fire TV). And no, I wouldn't have an integrated "My TV" list of shows to watch like I do on TiVo (combining OTA recordings plus most of the shows I stream) -- but honestly, that TiVo feature is better in theory than in practice because TiVo's database is often very slow to update streaming shows with new episodes. As of yesterday, the new Hulu series 11.22.63 was still showing only the first ep available on my TiVo despite the fact that three were actually available.

There's a certain sliver of the cord-cutter market for whom TiVo makes the most sense but honestly, I think it's pretty small right now.
 

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I use the apps on my TiVo all the time and they work great for me. I find the ability to jump in and out of the apps using a single remote much more compelling then the slight improvements in speed you get on other devices. My only major complaint is about Hulu. The app on the Bolt is great, but the one on the Roamio/Mini is terrible. If they'd just bring the new Hulu app over to the Roamio/Mini I'd be thrilled.

In fact I find myself watching more and more shows streaming, because of TiVo, then I did before any of these apps were added to TiVo. The convenience of being able to just pop in and check out what's available without having to switch remotes or inputs just makes me more likely to do it. Plus having a Mini in every room makes it possible to watch in each room without the need to have a separate streaming device in each room too.
 

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I think what Tivo doesn't understand is that there are two types of customers for an OTA dvr. One is the cord cutter who has cable and compares the cost of owning a TiVo to cable. The other is a customer that doesn't have cable but wants the convenience of a dvr. The first might be happy paying a 150/year. I suspect the second doesn't feel the value of paying 150/year.

I got the Roamio OTA with lifetime for $300 and feel it was a great value. There is no way I would pay $600 for lifetime (or $150/year) in addition to the Roamio OTA (or Bolt) cost. With that pricing, when my unit fails, I will look closely at the Channel Master DVR+ or Tablo or Magnabox. Yes, they do not have all the bells and whistles of TiVo but those features are not worth much for the OTA crowd.

What a lot of OTA customers want is a simple DVR with a programming guide. Look at how many people brought VCRs. Right now, the TiVo seems more focused on the high end TV lover rather than the mass market.

As I reread this, maybe TiVo does understand since they seem to be refocusing on the cable market and deemphasizing the retail market.
 

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For Tivo to be viable in the OTA market, I think they would need:

- A lower-cost box (smaller disk/no streaming)
- Much lower cost service ($5 or less per month)
Tivo has to make money to be viable. Cut the top line by a substantial amount and Tivo would bleed a lot of red ink doing these things.

- No service option where it acts like a VCR (time/channel record only)
Can't you already do this with an old TiVo? If not, go get a VCR.
- (optionally) multiple antenna inputs
Adding a new feature will cost a lot in engineering, raising not lowering costs. Costing Tivo even more money. Just where did you go to business school?

- On-screen notification when bad signal prevents a Season Pass show from recording.
Huh? So you can go grab the rabbit ears and improve the signal? What if the TV is off?

You like many Americans want what you want at half the cost. Tivo does not make a lot of money as it is. Your suggestions would incur large losses. The OTA customer is really not a huge, profitable market.

You remind me of a couple at a Radio Shack. They were shopping for an antenna that would allow them to get Showtime and HBO without paying for it. I asked the couple why would anyone pay for HBO and Showtime if they could get it for free. They didn't want to understand, they just wanted that magic antenna.
 

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We cut the cord over six years ago. I purchased a TiVo almost immediately. Had it not been for TiVo allowing us to "leverage" OTA content by being able to record anything and everything that interested us, I'm nearly certain we would have gone back to cable. Initially it was a tough pill to swallow the TiVo costs but for us it has been well worth it. I feel we get a great deal of entertainment content and I like that we can easily supplement it with the built in streaming apps if desired. Despite equipment costs (TiVo, antenna, etc.) I have saved well over $4,000.00 over that time period. Most friends that see our TV and the TiVo interface assume we have cable and are amazed that we don't.
 

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I think you're in the minority when it comes to not watching network TV. Even for cable customers network TV makes up a majority of content consumed.
Yeah, I have always completely admitted this. Even though I have cable (and with analog TV, originally networks were in two different directions), the VAST majority of what I watch is network TV.. and most of the rest is 'basic cable' stuff. I have cheap HBO ($5/month), and that's _mostly_ only for Silicon Valley and John Oliver's show, plus an On Demand HBO movie once in a while.
 

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It is not fair to compare the cost of ownership on the new Bolt model with those of us that were lucky enough to get in on the Roamio lifetime close out deal. Sure if all you have is $300.00 in a one time investment Tivo makes sense for OTA/Cordcutters. The idea of paying never ending annual or monthly fees just goes against the logic of cordcutting to start with.
Having said that I also think the Party is almost over for Tivo in the retail market they have said loud and clear its not were they are focusing there resources anymore. Tivo will likely be around for a few more years but its an End of Line product. Enjoy it while it lasts but be prepared to move on in the future.
I do not expect any new features not already in the works and older products will not be upgraded. Its pretty obvious to me they are fazing out of the retail business.
 

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wow, I think the OP is way off on what OTA users want.

I find a huge amount of OTA programming to DVR. I complain because I want more than 4 tuners and it just gripes me when someone says an ota user doesn't need more than 4 tuners. I could use 6 or more easily.

I've used DVR so many years that I find it uncomfortable having to watch live OTA and not being able to fast forward.

And, now that we have quick mode and skip mode. My gosh, I love those features. I even DVR news programs and watch in quick mode. Shows like he Bachelor, or Biggest Loser get watched in quick mode. A few other shows that are fairly animated anyway, get watched in quick mode.
 

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Well it certainly appears that TiVo believes the market for stand alone DVRs is to small to be their primary focus. We can relist all the reasons why again and again, but it really doesn't matter, the fact is it is a small niche market.

Another fact is TiVo (and others) have tried many things and none have worked. While I am sure there are many talented people posting here, thinking all TiVo needs to do is some list of simple things and the demand for stand alone DVRs will explode is foolish.

Regarding OTA, if people think some company is going to develop, support, market, & manufacture some sub $2-300 DVR and it is going to do everything you want, you are living in dream land. They would need to be able to sell millions of units per year for that to happen, if it could happen at all. For those who only want an OTA DVR at those price points, it likely will only happen via close out deals or buying used, shop for those or just decide you really don't need an OTA DVR and live with a good streaming device and live OTA.
 

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I have been OTA only for about 4 years. I started with a Premiere, when TiVo was running a promo for $10/month service for Antenna only. The idea of one box that would be a DVR with channel guide, plus allow streaming services (Netflix) was very attractive. By stopping DirecTV, I saved more than $100 per month.

TiVo offered a promotion to the Roamio, allowing me to transfer my $10/mo plan. Plus the box was about $150 I think. I upgraded because I heard the OTA tuners were better (true) and I was frustrated with the OTA experience of the Premiere.

I still have the $10 monthly plan, and am fine with it. I have several Mini's, and have basically a whole-home DVR system plus Amazon/Netflix/Hulu etc. on all screens, with one box and one remote.

As far as I am concerned the OTA TiVo is a great low cost solution and I have more TV watching options than I can use. Add HBO Go/Now and its a slam dunk. The next TiVo for me would be an Bolt with 6 (good) OTA tuners. Otherwise I'll stick with the Roamio.

Peter G
 

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If Tivo thought lowering their price would make them more money they would do it in a heartbeat.

Giving a Tivo a smaller hard drive isn't going to reduce costs much if at all. The hard drives have a fixed costbase unlike other tech that just gets cheaper and cheaper to make.

Not including streaming services saves them next to no money because they already put these services on their cable dvrs.

Same with virtually everything else.

If they put another antenna input on there then you would be looking at a higher pricepoint.... although I think you are right that this is needed because, in my experience, in 3 major cities, I always had 1 major network that didn't come in very good, if at all, on just 1 antenna position. It would be a very welcome addition.

I also think you are right that Tivo either has to get with the game as far as streaming options go or get out/partner with someone else. The fact is there are very cheap streaming boxes that do a better job at streaming than Tivo.

I think if the box was state of the art in streaming combined with the great OTA dvr experience and that extra antenna input then they would have a great box and a box that consumers would be happy paying a higher price for.
 

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I'm not sure why OTA people complain so much about the price. There are really only two competitors in the market, Chanel Master and Tablo.* A Channel Master with hard drive costs $400, no service fee. A Tablo costs $300 and carries a $5/mo, $50/year or $150/lifetime setvice fee. A Roamio OTA was only $50 with a $15/mo service fee. That's roughly a 2 year break even point with those other two devices. And the Tablo also requires a 3rd party device, like a Roku, to even function because the main box is completely headless.

That being said I think if TiVo could change the price point a little they might draw in some new customers. For example if the hardware was say $150 and they offered a service fee of $8/mo, $75/year or $300/lifetime then that would be directly competitive with those other two products. The trick would be making the hardware cheap enough that they could sell it for that price and still make a profit.

Another thing that would would draw in users is if they beefed up support for streaming to 3rd party devices like the FireTV, Roku and Apple TV and/or lowered the price on the Mini so that it was cheaper to expand to a multi-room system. And adding more apps like HBO Now, Showtime, Crackle, Vimeo, etc.. would also help.

* Silicone Dust is working on a solution, but it's still in beta and is very much a DIY solution for the more geekier amoung us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
A lot of us here are long time Tivo owners, so of course we're going to go with Tivo for OTA. But if you're not a Tivo owner already, going Tivo for OTA doesn't really make as much sense.

No one can say that Tivo doesn't have good features or that it's not one of the best DVRs. However, the utility of a premium DVR isn't necessarily as important to an OTA person. It's like recommending a Mercedes to someone who only needs a car once per week. Of course Tivo is the best DVR, but Tivo needs to truly understand the the OTA customer if they want to be in that market. I'm an owner since Series 1, but I can't see myself getting a high-priced Tivo with a high monthly fee for OTA when OTA viewing is a small part of what I watch now. When I had cable, I didn't mind the price of Tivo because it was used for 100% of my viewing. But now when it's only 10-20%, it's not as valuable.

There are too many competitors out there now. As an OTA customer, the only way for Tivo to keep me as a customer is to offer a lower-cost solution. The alternative is that I'll find another solution such as streaming-only or one of their competitors offering a $200 DVR with $5 service. My need for an OTA DVR doesn't justify a premium offering.

And with the cable DVRs getting better and the cable companies making customer-owned equipment as difficult as possible, I'm not sure how long Tivo is going to be around in that market. They have all the infrastructure already for an awesome OTA DVR that they could crush the competition. It could be OTA-only so that the cable customers still had to get the premium box. I think they need to make the choice between making a little bit of money on an OTA customer or nothing at all. I don't think marketing a premium DVR to OTA customers will be a successful strategy. There just aren't enough premium customers in that market.
 

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one of their competitors offering a $200 DVR with $5 service. My need for an OTA DVR doesn't justify a premium offering
No such device exists. A Tablo is the closest to that, but costs $300 not $200. The Roamio OTA is only $50. If they could lower the price of the monthly fee from $15/mo to $12/mo then the cost of a Roamio OTA would be the same as the Tablo over 3 years. (~$480) And the Channel Master with a drive costs $400, although it doesn't have any fees.
 
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