TiVo cancels Season Pass for OnePass, streaming included (hands-on)

The DVR stalwart will rename one of its most iconic features to reflect an upgrade that integrates streaming and broadcast sources into the My Shows menu.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
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One Pass to rule them all, One Pass to find them, One Pass to group them all, and in the My Shows bind them! David Katzmaier/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- TiVo is prepared for hordes of pitchfork-wielding faithful to assault its headquarters, chanting, "Bring back Season Pass! Bring back Season Pass!"

This February the company will perform an update to its DVR platform that eliminates Season Pass and replaces it with something TiVo says is even better: OnePass.

As you can see from the setup screen above, OnePass will allow TiVo users to not only record every upcoming episode of a TV show to the DVR's hard drive -- the core functionality of TiVo since it was launched in at CES in 1999 -- but to also instruct the pass to include episodes of the show pulled from streaming services like Netflix.

The TVs of CES 2015 (pictures)

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In a hands-on demo at TiVo's booth here at CES, Jim Denney, TiVo's VP of Product Marketing, walked us through the new feature. It mostly works exactly as you'd expect. Once you select a show you can set up a OnePass with the options screen seen above.

In addition to the standard Season Pass options, you can choose which season to start from and whether to include episodes that cost money individually (as opposed to those included in a subscription service like Netflix). You can also elect not to show any streaming sources at all, which essentially makes the OnePass behave just like a Season Pass.

The new My Shows indicates episodes sourced from streaming services with a little Wi-Fi-esque icon. David Katzmaier

Once the One Pass is set up TiVo does the rest. The My Shows menu lists the show titles grouped into folders as before, but once you open a folder there's often a lot more inside (see above). In addition to the "normal" shows recorded to the DVR from your cable service, for example, episodes from Netflix, Amazon Instant and Hulu Plus are shown too, along with (for Comcast customers) episodes available via video on demand. Clicking one of the streaming episodes automatically launches the appropriate app (you can choose which one) and begins playback of that episode.

The groupings are intuitive and well thought out, grouped by season as with other services. If you don't subscribe to a particular service, OnePass won't find it. And since the listings for streaming shows are just pointers that instruct the app to launch an episode, they won't take up any space on the hard drive.

In our demo, despite some crowding on the My Pass screen, it seemed to work great. No other device seamlessly combines multiple sources into a single easy-to-grok listing based not on which app you have to launch, but on what matters: the show itself.

Binge watchers, now you have another reason to buy a TiVo.

TiVo's updated Android app for tablets. David Katzmaier

TiVo also showed us a revamp of its app for Android. The layout is completely refreshed to follow Android navigation guidelines, for example with the swipe-away main menu window. There's plenty of thumbnails and better navigation throughout, and the tablet version takes advantage of the extra real estate with a two-view My Shows screen. Responsiveness and general performance have also been improved.

TiVo says OnePass will appear on TiVo Roamio and TiVo Mini devices in February, and the Android app update will hit in March.