DVR maker TiVo announced today a new product called TiVo Online that will allow its subscribers to stream both their DVR recordings as well as live TV over the web. The free site also includes an online guide, show recommendations and a search feature that helps customers find what to watch. Other options will help users track favorite shows – even if they’re available on a streaming service like Hulu or Netflix instead of network television.
Over the years, TiVo has worked with cable or satellite TV providers to grow its business, but these days the company has had to address the new ways consumers are accessing television programming – cord cutters are watching for free, over-the-air, and many are turning to streaming services in addition to, or in replace of, traditional TV. Consumers are also expecting to be able to “watch TV” on any screen, not just the big one in their living rooms.
To address these evolving needs, the company has made some adjustments of its own. For example, it introduced a DVR aimed specifically at cord cutters with the TiVo Roamio OTA, and it cancelled its “Season Pass” feature in favor of “OnePass,” a more comprehensive show tracking feature capable of combining DVR recordings with the ability to gather episodes from online streaming services like Netflix, all under one roof.
Now, TiVo is making users’ DVR recordings and their live TV streams function more like a modern streaming service, too, with the debut TiVo Online.
TiVo has now officially confirmed the details.
Essentially, TiVo Online allows subscribers to access the same feature set they’re familiar with, but from a web browser interface. They can find programs to watch, track and manage a list of favorite shows, search, check their TV schedule, manage upcoming recordings, and more.
The service works with all models of TiVo Roamio and TiVo Premiere, the company says.
However, the online service does have some drawbacks – it’s designed to work on desktop or laptop computers like Mac and PC, as opposed to mobile browsers, and more importantly, it only allows for streaming recording and live TV while you’re in the home. That is, the your laptop has to be on the same home Wi-Fi network as your DVR for the streaming feature to work, due to content provider restrictions.
A disclaimer on the official also notes that some content may not even be available for streaming at all due to copyright issues, and other “technical restrictions.”
The disclaimer additionally reveals something else more exciting, though – it says that “out-of-home” streaming and downloading is “anticipated to be coming soon.”
While the current limitations makes the service less compelling than something like Netflix which works on nearly any device, in or out of the home, over Wi-Fi or your cellular data plan, it’s certainly a big step forward for TiVo.
And with TiVo’s plans for out-of-home streaming, the TiVo Online service could come into play in the near future when TiVo announces its plans with regard to its “legal” version of Aereo, which it’s expected to unveil in July. (Streaming service Aereo lost its Supreme Court battle, and had to sell off its assets. TiVo acquired its trademarks and customer lists.) As previously reported, it’s possible the forthcoming service will involve a “cloud DVR” function, and the “legal” component could come from working with pay TV providers to offer their broadband customers a package with a video component. That would make it competitive with something like Dish’s Sling TV, which targets cord-cutters with a cable TV-like service that works online and through cross-platform apps.