Xperi, the parent company of Tivo, has announced that Vestel will be the first manufacturer of “Powered by TiVo” smart TVs running its upcoming Tivo OS platform. These TVs, which will be arriving in Europe sometime in 2023, will be the first new option in the smart TV space since Amazon entered the market in 2017 with Fire TV Smart TVs. They’ll be competing directly with smart TVs running Roku OS, Android/Google TV, and Fire OS.
Vestel is “one of the top three European TV producers,” according to Xperi, but don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of the company, since most of its TVs are released under more common licensed names, like Toshiba, Panasonic, and JVC. Vestel is the manufacturer behind several lesser-known Fire TV Smart TVs in Europe, such as those from brands like OK, Bush, and Technika. The brands for Tivo’s upcoming smart TVs haven’t been announced, but the deal with Vestel is said to be a “multi-year, multi-country, multi-million-unit agreement,” so it’ll likely include several different brands.
Tivo is touting its new Tivo OS platform as a “truly independent platform” that will pull together both linear TV and streaming TV from multiple sources into an unbiased interface. Fire TV is often criticized for leaning too heavily into Prime Video and Freevee content while Android/Google TV tends to lean towards YouTube and YouTube TV content. Even Roku, which used to be considered the most unbiased platform, is starting to lean its interface more and more toward content from the Roku Channel. All that said, Tivo does operate its own free ad-supported streaming service, Tivo+, with around 160 channels, so it’ll be interesting to see how much Tivo OS leans into that service.
While there is still a lot of unknowns about Tivo OS, like how it will handle apps, more is being revealed the closer these TVs come to being released. One key difference between Tivo OS and its existing competition from Roku, Amazon, and Google, is that it will allow manufacturers to brand the TV experience. While Roku OS, Fire OS, and Android/Google TV take complete control of the experience, Tivo OS will appear more like an in-house operating system, like WebOS on LG TVs and Tizen on Samsung TVs. While this will likely have little to no benefit for the consumer, it may be appealing enough to sway TV manufacturers away from Roku, Amazon, and Google platforms in order to build more brand affinity.