TiVo’s Stream 4K box brings streaming and live TV together

TiVo’s new products put all your content under one interface

What: TiVo’s new hardware and interface is one-stop shopping for streaming content and live TV; it even includes a tiny version of the original TiVo remote.

How: TiVo 4K Stream is based on Android TV and gives direct access to streaming and live content on one interface.

Why Do You Care: If you’re tired of switching remotes and apps to see the shows (live and streaming) you want, this might be just what you’re looking for, at least when TiVo finally adds Apple TV+ and Disney+.

Update: The Tivo Stream 4K is available now and on sale for $49.99. Via Engadget.

The overload of subscription streaming options and still-existing Live TV has ushered in, naturally, services that will help you manage it all. One, though, comes from the venerable TiVo brand.

TiVo Stream 4K
The new TiVo Stream 4K has a familiar look.  TiVo

On Tuesday at CES in Las Vegas, the company best known for all but inventing the digital time-shifting business introduced TiVo Stream 4K, a new Android TV-based hardware and software platform that weaves together an a la carte collection of streaming services and a new back-of-the HDTV device that can support 4K, HDR10 streams from all of them. It also supports Dolby Atmos sound and Dolby Vision HDR. If its design looks familiar, that’s because the TiVo Stream 4K takes its design cues from TiVo’s new Edge box. Similar to, say, Google Chromecast, the TiVo Stream 4K has a short HDMI cable coming out of one side and a power port on the other.

It also ships with a simplified and rather adorable mini version of the iconic, peanut-shaped TiVo remote.

Our data scientists discovered that if you can get a user to engage with personalized features within the first 30 days of using the product, churn rate drops by 50 percent.

In some ways, TiVo Stream 4K is like the software platforms you’ll find on a growing number of smart TVs, in particular Roku TVs, that now include apps for Apple TV+, Netflix, Disney+, HBO Now and others. But where these platforms focus on giving you access to each of the native streaming platform apps, TiVo Stream puts the content all on one interface, surfacing TV, movies, sports, and live programming based on activities and, as TiVo execs demonstrated to me this week, a personal profile you help TiVo build by answering a series of “This or That” content questions.

TiVo remotes
Look familiar?.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

“Our data scientists discovered that if you can get a user to engage with personalized features within the first 30 days of using the product, churn rate drops by 50 percent,” said Chris Thun, TiVo’s VP of Product. Thun explained that they get a pretty good idea of user preferences from a short series of A/B tests, which basically ask the user to choose between two very different kinds of content.

TiVo Stream 4K will also let you sign up for many of your favorite streaming services through the on-ramp program. Options I saw included Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and CBS All Access. Disney+ and Apple’s TV+ were notably absent. Thun told me that while other platforms (like Roku) already support Apple’s TV+, Android TV does not (yet) and that’s, Thun noted, not something they can control. Still, Thun thinks those services could come to TiVo Stream 4K in the future.

TiVo Stream 4K Interface
The TiVo Stream 4K inteface looks similar to many other streaming platforms, but this one tries to surface content as opposed to Apps.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Instead of front-loading all these streaming platforms, TiVo Stream 4K's carousel focus on content and is agnostic about where it comes from. For live television, TiVo Stream 4K relies on Sling TV, which the service also personalizes, loading the Live TV carousel with whatever kinds of TV you prefer, regardless of network source.

There’s also a Watch Next section, which is based, obviously on what you’ve watched previously and Trending if you want to watch what everyone else is watching.

The service also includes TiVo’s free, ad-supported TiVo+ service, which the company launched late last year. It’s a streaming content platform that includes a large catalog of new, but not necessarily premium, content. For instance, the original John Wick is on there, but not the latest film in the series, John Wick: Parabellum. TiVo execs told me they’re constantly expanding the network offerings and this week announced the addition of news stations from Cheddar, Newsy and USA Today. Overall, TiVo is bringing the total number of TiVo+ channels from 23 to 26.

The TiVo Stream hardware lists for $49.99 (introductory price, it’ll eventually cost $69.99) and should ship in April.