TiVo now has perhaps the most powerful partner in the retail business in its quest to quickly establish itself in the consumer streaming market.
Over the weekend, tech blog ZatzNotFunny spotted an end cap at Walmart promoting the $49.99 TiVo Stream 4K. This kind of high-profile shelf space is a notable achievement for TiVo, which established its DVRs as a retail brand two decades ago but has largely succeeded in serving the business-to-business software market in recent years.
for one thing, the end caps signal, site operator David Zatz noted, that TiVo still has "skilled folks around able to work such a deal."
The TiVo Stream 4K also promoted in Walmart’s current 14-page weekly circular.
Touting 265 million weekly customer visits across its approximately 11,500 stores, Walmart remains a powerful force in the video business, 15 years after it led the explosion of DVD purchasing.
Now controlled by electronics company Xperi after a $3 billion merger consummated earlier this year, TiVo is once again prioritizing retail in its quest to establish itself in the connected TV device market dominated by Roku and Amazon … and soon, Google, from which TiVo licenses the Android TV operating system that powers its Stream 4K HDMI dongle.
TiVo hasn’t released any sales data for its new OTT dongle, which debuted over the spring. Even with brisk sales, however, profits are probably negligible, with the company originally aiming to sell the device $79.99.
Indeed, that hackneyed phrase “streaming wars” might better apply to the connected TV device game vs. the suddenly cluttered SVOD side of the business, with Amazon and Google able to sustain heavy losses on their devices in their quest to establish their respective platforms.
Amazon just introduced an HD-only “Lite" version of its Fire TV Stick, which it prices at $29.99--on par with Roku's base HDMI stick. Google is about to transition its Chromecast HDMI dongle to run Android TV. The new “Chromecast with Android TV” is set to debut at locations including Walmart as early as this week, also with a $49.99 price tag.
While Xperi Holdings might not tolerate sustained losses on consumer-grade streaming hardware, TiVo has assets to work with.
For one, its software chops give it a head start in marketing the holy grail for streaming platforms—that is, the ability to aggregate content from multiple streaming apps into one location, thus simplifying the basic consumer task of quickly and easily finding something to watch.
Notably, on its Walmart end cap, TiVo runs the banner, “No more app-switching. You entertainment on one screen.”
TiVo continues to iterate and develop the Stream software that overlays Android TV on its devices. It most recently announced the native integration of the Locast app into Stream. That means that every time you initiate the device, you don’t have to toggle over to the Locast app to find out what’s on your local broadcast stations. If Stream’s algorithms detect something you might like, it’ll surface in the main Stream app.
Of course, TiVo has a long way to go before Stream has native integration of enough major apps to turn it into a true one-stop location. It also has a long way to go before it challenges Roku in device sales--Roku just refreshed its product line Monday and is touting 43 million active users.
But TiVo has even more things up its sleeve down the line. For instance, the under-told upside to its recent merger is Xperi’s strong connection to the smart TV OEM world, which is useful for TiVo’s quest to develop smart TV’s powered by Stream 4K.
And then, of course, there’s Walmart.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!