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TiVo goes after cord cutters with new $49.99 device

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New TiVo Roamio OTA DVR records over-the-air content, available for $49.99

Catering to cord cutters, TiVo on Monday announced a new $49.99 device with a $14.99 monthly subscription that works with an HD antenna but not paid TV services.

With a tongue twister of a name, the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR records programming from over-the-air TV channels from broadcast networks like NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox. It cannot hook up to cable or satellite TV boxes as other TiVo devices can. Those boxes, which start at $199.99, can record content from cable channels.

Over the past year, the San Jose company has gained more than 1.1 million subscribers, mostly through cable and satellite partners that offer TiVo to their customers. On its own, TiVo has struggled to attract customers, losing 50,000 subscribers in the past year. The company is hoping cord cutters will buy its $49.99 box and reverse the recent losses.

The new device can record up to four shows at the same time, store 75 hours of HD video, play content from online services like Netflix and YouTube, and stream live and recorded content to users' smartphones and tablets.

"You can get your video signal from a cable operator, you can get video signal over the top from high speed broadband, or over the air from broadcast signals, and TiVo wishes to serve all those markets," TiVo Chief Marketing Office Ira Bahr told The Times.

There are 54 million cable subscribers in the U.S., according to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. But last year, 233,000 consumers dropped their paid TV subscriptions, according to research firm SNL Kagan. TiVo is hoping to tap that market by offering the Roamio OTA DVR at a much lower price than its other boxes, which start at $199.99.

"People like the convenience of things like DVRs," said Ryan Downey, founder of TheStreamingAdvisor.com. "If you can emulate that same experience without the extra cost of the cable and still watch most of the top rated shows on televisions, it makes walking away easier.”

For TiVo, the key is getting customers to pay its monthly service fee, which also applies to its over-the-air box.

"TiVo isn’t trying to sell units, they’re trying to sell $15 a month service charges, and this makes it easier for people to sign up,” Downey said.

The TiVo Roamio OTA DVR will be available Sept. 14 in a limited release at Best Buy stores in select markets. TiVo said it will expand the device's availability to more markets if there's demand for it.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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