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TiVo to Drop Lifetime Service Plan 301

Posted by samzenpus
from the nothing-lasts-forever dept.
Thomas Hawk writes "TiVo held their most recent analyst conference call today and on the call announced that they will be dropping their lifetime subscription option as well as offering three new monthly no upfront fee TiVo plans combining their box and service for one year, two year and three year commitments. Additionally they announced that their highly anticipated Series 3 HDTV standalone model with CableCARD support will not be available until after "mid year," a new retail partnership with Radio Shack and the fact that the company is in solid discussions with other cable operators for deals similar to their previously announced Comcast initiative."
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TiVo to Drop Lifetime Service Plan

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  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:07AM (#14881960)
    Now that they're cutting back on services and making it more difficult to avoid commercials, surely there must be a better service out there...

    Is there?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:11AM (#14881971)
      MythTV, buddy - completely free and far too difficult for years now!
    • by jtdennis (77869) <oyr249m02 AT sneakemail DOT com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:12AM (#14881978) Homepage
      How exactly are they making it more difficult to avoid commercials? I still fast forward through them just like before. The only change I've noticed is more commercials support Tivo's "press thumbs up for more info" thing if you do watch them.
      • How exactly are they making it more difficult to avoid commercials? I still fast forward through them just like before. The only change I've noticed is more commercials support Tivo's "press thumbs up for more info" thing if you do watch them.

        Although I'll probably be outcast for this opinion, but I kinda like that more commercials are supporting the thumbs up button. Especially when you can schedule a recording of a show based on the commercial for that show playing, without jumping through any hoops or e
    • by bender647 (705126) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:17AM (#14881990)
      Now that they're cutting back on services and making it more difficult to avoid commercials, surely there must be a better service out there...

      Cue the hordes of homebrew PVR links...

    • Personally, they're going in the wrong direction. I've wanted to buy a box, but didn't want to get locked into yet another subscription model. Especially for some TV listings it takes pennies a month to provide.

      What they SHOULD have done is offer the listing service for free, as an enticement to buy the hardware. But no, they got greedy and gloomed onto the razor and blade model. "We can get those suckers to pay us FOREVER!"

    • ReplyTV. I have two units. Work flawlessly. Fortunately I have one older model with excellent software which detects and skips commercials quite well. Plus, it connects to my wireless network easily. I transfer shows to my pc and burn on DVD.
    • by Sethb (9355) <bokelman@gmail.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @10:28AM (#14882789) Homepage
      There are two REALLY big blunders that TiVo is making with this new pricing model:

      1. The box is only warrantied for 1 year, but you can be under contract for up to 3! If the box dies on you 13 months into your contract, you're stuck either paying for 23 more months of service on a box you can't use, or paying TiVo a fee to swap your box for a refurbished model and move your service to it.

      2. Hidden away in the fine print (but mentioned at the TiVoCommunity.com forums) is that the monthly fee you're paying doesn't automatically go down to the $12.95/month "service-only" option once your contract period is up. You have to call TiVo and request that it be lowered to save yourself the extra monthly fee, which is buying you NOTHING, not even warranty coverage. It's a win-win for them, no one had to do the new coding in their billing system, and they get to take advantage of everyone too busy to note exactly what month they purchased their TiVo in.

      I've been a huge TiVo fanboy, I've owned 6 boxes since 2000, and have referred enough friends and family to TiVo to earn a 140 hour box, a Nikon digicam, and an iPod Shuffle, but I think my love affair may be coming to an end over this. I'm already suffering through using a Motorola HD DVR on my HDTV, and was planning on getting the HD TiVo later this year when it was introduced, but now I'm sorely tempted to get a Microsoft Media Center box instead, as it'll work with my Xbox 360...

      At a minimum, TiVo really needs to warranty the box for as long as the contract is in effect, and swap it out for NO CHARGE when one breaks, they also need to automatically revert the charge to the "service-only" option after the contract has expired.

      Fortunately, TiVo breakdowns are pretty rare, but they do happen. I lost a hard drive in my Toshiba DVD/TiVo box after it was only 5 months old, and I lost a modem in my 20 Hour Series 1 box in 2001. The Toshiba was replaced under warranty, and I hacked in an ethernet card to repair the Series 1 box.

      I used to easily defend TiVo's monthly fee by pointing out that not only did they have to pay for guide data, but they had to pay for ISP service for the boxes to dial in nighly to retrieve guide data. Now that most of the people I know have their TiVos hooked to their home network, it's a lot harder to defend...
      • The box is only warrantied for 1 year, but you can be under contract for up to 3! If the box dies on you 13 months into your contract, you're stuck either paying for 23 more months of service on a box you can't use, or paying TiVo a fee to swap your box for a refurbished model and move your service to it.

        That was one of my biggest concerns when I picked up my tivo box a year and a half ago. The only reason I was concerned is because Tivo was a experiment for me to see if I would like it(as this is my fi

    • No company selling PVRs will ever make it easier to avoid commercials. It would be equivalent to committing corporate Hari-Kari. You cannot look the big money in the eye and stab them in the back at the same time.
  • MythTV (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:07AM (#14881962)
    MythTV (www.mythtv.org) is looking better and better.
    • Re:MythTV (Score:2, Informative)

      by CRCulver (715279)
      Wouldn't MythTV require a TV tuner card for one's computer that would cost the same as a TiVo? And with the TiVo, at least you get to watch shows on your nice big-screen TV, while MythTV would have me viewing shows on my not-so-hot laptop screen.
      • Re:MythTV (Score:5, Informative)

        by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:17AM (#14881991)
        You obviously don't know a whole lot about MythTV. Yes, you need to buy a tuner card, but at the same time you can display it on a regular TV. In fact I have mine hooked up to my 42" HDTV and the display looks great.
        • Re:MythTV (Score:3, Informative)

          You don't even have to have the machine with the tuner hooked up to ANY display. I've got one running in a closet (the drives & fans make too much noise to be in the same room as a TV), with the frontend running on a modded Xbox. If I wanted to, I could put in more tuners and have multiple frontends all watching different shows on live TV, or browsing through what has been built up to be a rather considerable library. I'd like to add the Torrentocracy plugin, but I can't seem to get it to work with 0
          • Indeed, after I got my box working with the TV and all, we bought an iBook. Now we often just lay in bed and watch live tv or recorded shows directly over the wirelessG. Coolest stuff...
      • Re:MythTV (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Andy Social (19242) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:24AM (#14882022) Homepage

        A MythTV box will cost more than a TiVo, based on their new three-year plan. It will work on your television, not just your computer - the MythTV software is intended to be used on a standalone computer that is dedicated to DVR functions.

        The benefit over TiVo for most users is that MythTV doesn't lock you into someone else's content control system. The stories [pvrblog.com] about abuses [boingboing.net] from the makers of the devices or from the studios, abetted [boingboing.net] by the makers, are not hard to find. As Cory Doctorow says, nobody woke up this morning wanting their DVR to do less than it did yesterday. Yet, that's exactly what you are agreeing to allow when you buy a TiVo or use a Windows Media PC - someone else has more rights on your machine than you do.

        Now, outside the DRM realm, another important issue that makes MythTV attractive is expandability. Yes, TiVo is hackable, but it's not meant to be hackable easily. My particular MythTV box has two tuners, and room for at least two more (I could actually have eight if I went with dual-tuner cards). TiVo has one tuner. A settop DVR from a cable or satellite company usually has two tuners, but you can't add more.

        And if you're reading Slashdot, you're probably willing to play with your toys anyway, right? MythTV is fun. :-)

        • Re:MythTV (Score:5, Interesting)

          by pla (258480) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:36AM (#14882064) Journal
          A MythTV box will cost more than a TiVo, based on their new three-year plan.

          Horsepucky!

          IF and only if you include the price of a full PC, the costs come out comparable (for $469, you can build a damn fine low-end PC). Tuner cards cost well under $100, and you don't need a monitor (since you would presumeably use this with an existing TV, and if not, you'd need to consider that in the price of a TiVo as well).


          Until now, Myth and the like have served a niche audience of people who would tend to have a decent PC in their livingroom anyway, and for an extra $50 could also use it as a PVR. This move has shifted the balance even for people wanting a dedicated DVR in their TV room - You could even go so far as to buy a cheap-ass Dell and throw in a capture card for less than the 3-year plan.
          • The only thing about MythTV is that it takes technical know-how. It's great if you've got that know-how; other folks will just use Tivo, or one of these DVRs that the cable operators offer now.
          • by Andy Social (19242) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @09:29AM (#14882312) Homepage
            Not horse pucky. Of course I include the cost of the PC - I'm not using my MythTV box to do anything other than hook up to the television. Sure, I'm doing more than a TiVo can do, but it's still not my general-purpose computer. You can't remove the cost of all the hardware you need.

            You are right, though - a machine comparable to a TiVo can be built for money comparable to what you'd spend on a TiVo. I don't know too many folks who build MythTV machines that are comparable to a TiVo though. The 80 gigabyte harddrive is never enough, the single tuner is rather paltry, etc. So, I suppose I should have been more clear - most MythTV users will spend more on their machine than if they bought a TiVo, but they also have about five times the capacity and much more expandability and more features and no DRM. Better?
    • Re:MythTV (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Paul Carver (4555) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @09:03AM (#14882173)
      I wish I could get my MythTV box fully functional. I've spent far more on it over the years than I have on my Tivo and it still doesn't measure up. It can do more "stuff" but it does it in a much less polished way. In this latest attempt, the IR receiver on my PVR350 doesn't work, though it did work in a previous incarnation.

      The core MythTV documentation is severely lacking. There are lots of good tutorials out there, but since every tutorial focuses on a specific set of hardware you can waste a lot of time if you have slightly different hardware than the tutorial.

      Anybody know how to keep my MythTV box from locking up when the disk gets full? I have a separate partition just for recordings, but MythTV can't seem to figure out that it should delete old ones when the partition is full. I never had to configure my Tivo to handle this very obvious issue.

      I keep working on my MythTV box because I know that my series 1 Tivo will fail someday, but unless there are some major improvements in the MythTV documentation and code I expect that I'll keep using my Tivo until it dies.
      • Re:MythTV (Score:3, Informative)

        The hard drives on your Series 1 will fail someday. Weaknees sells replacement drives (with the TiVo image), though, and you can pick up some more capacity, too.
      • Re:MythTV (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jargoone (166102) * on Thursday March 09, 2006 @09:40AM (#14882396)
        Good to know I'm not the only one having problems. I have tried 3 different distributions (some of them 2-3 times each!), sometimes following tutorials, sometimes not, with different results each time. The common thread between the results is that something doesn't work right when I'm done. You hit the nail on the head: the core documentation absolutely sucks.

        I've spent a ton of time on it, and even if I get it to work, I still have to train my wife. She gets the TiVo interface just fine, but even I don't understand why Myth does things how it does sometimes.

        I'm about ready to just eBay the hardware and get the cable company's HD PVR. Yeah, the interface sucks, but I don't have as much time for this crap anymore.
        • Re:MythTV (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bogie (31020)
          Use a Windows PVR then. There are several Free and commercial ones available.

          If your just interested in using it as a digital VCR and can afford it, then just use the cable company's PVR. If you want to do PVR/photos/music/games etc then an XP based system should fit the bill. XP MCE is very polished and only costs $110 online.

          Of course the DIY PVR industry if fucked bigtime within 2-3 years due to Cablecards and DRM, but don't let that stop you from having some fun until then.
      • Re:MythTV (Score:3, Insightful)

        by orim (583920)
        Just wanted to say - thanks for telling the truth. There are so many Linux obsessed people on Slashdot who don't realize that yes, Linux, and custom installations are a lot more work than standalone devices. They're fine if you have the expertise, and loads of time, and you use it for learning purposes, but sometimes stuff just needs to work. Out of the box. No tinkering needed.
        I own a Tivo and thank god it's one device that's been working solid for 2 years without me even as much as looking at it. I hate h
  • by montyzooooma (853414) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:11AM (#14881972)
    Oh dear. I love my (series 1 UK) Tivo but I knew they'd been struggling. Didn't realise it was this bad.
  • Foreboding signs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:12AM (#14881977) Homepage

    If TiVo doesn't offer lifetife subscriptions anymore, then it might just suggest that they won't be around for anyone's lifetime. The fact that they are partnering up with a retail chain on its last legs, RadioShack, doesn't bode well for its future. It's a pity to see such an inventive company put its survival into doubt.

    Still, the lack of the new model until mid-year doesn't bother me much. Existing models already due everything a user could want, the Series 2 [amazon.com] records your shows. For 40 hours. What more could you want? Although there have been some issues with build quality (see some of the reviews on the Amazon listing) that hopefully will be fixed in the next generation.

    • Existing models already [do] everything a user could want

      Really? How do I record HD channels and display them in HD on my HDTV? How do I attach external storage without having to hack the unit? How do I record 2 channels at the same time?
      • You buy a DirecTV HD TiVo. It will record both DirecTV HD and off-air HD signals. It will record 2 channels at the same time. As for the external storage question, well you got me there.
        • ...and it will be worthless when DirecTV moves to MPEG-4. They may replace your unit for a small fee, but it won't be a TiVO unit.

          The greatest thing about the DirecTIVO units (SD) is that it records the digital signal and then decodes it when you play back. (and you can record two shows at once while watching a pre-recorded one)
          • ...and it will be worthless when DirecTV moves to MPEG-4. They may replace your unit for a small fee, but it won't be a TiVO unit.


            Any idea how soon this is likely to be? It seems like we've been talking about the MPEG4 move for years, but it hasn't happened yet...
            • From this [pcmag.com] article in PC Mag, the time frame looks like 2007.

              Quote:
              "Additionally, DirecTV will start providing local HD channels beginning with twelve of the largest television markets by the end of the year, and expanding to nationwide by 2007. DirecTV's aggressive push to deliver MPEG-4 HD video appears to mirror what Apple has managed to with MPEG-4 audio (AAC)--drive consumer demand and expectations."
    • by BoomerSooner (308737) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:22AM (#14882008) Homepage Journal
      I'm not a RadioShack fan by any means but a company that has EPS of 1.78 and a P/E of 10.76, isn't that bad. Their market cap is over 2.5 Billion. Not bad in my opinion. The management fiascos of late are a problem but they will be repaired. I thought RadioShack would die in the 1980's, they are still here.

      Before saying a company is on it's "last legs" maybe you should do some actual research?
      • Re:Foreboding signs (Score:4, Informative)

        by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @09:04AM (#14882177) Homepage Journal
        The Radio Shack I frequented in the 1980s was a place with an amazing selection of electronics, hobbyist components, how-to guides, and spare parts, and had knowledgable hackers behind the counter who shared my love of technology and were likely building just as complex gadgets in their own basements as I was.

        That place is dead, replaced by a cellphone and set-top-box store with a standard retail drone behind the counter whose blank stare glazes over at the merest mention of a Zener diode or anything else that isn't their newest mobile plan.
        • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @10:18AM (#14882704) Homepage Journal
          Nostalgia is lovely honey, but when was the last time you bought a Zener diode?

          I miss my grandfather's horse whip business, but when times changed he got a filling station (all true, and the station went bust in the Depression.) Ratshack couldn't make it on the radios covered in fake fur so they looked like poodles, and the "Battery Club" never brought in THAT many folks, so they had to move on.

          Radio Shack is everywhere. Something like 95% of US households are within 10 miles of a Radio Shack. 99% of all US household members wander through a Radio Shack every few years. That makes them closer then the big box stores, just the place to drop into for the odd watch battery, TV cable, or gadget gift.

          Radio Shack has that to their advantage. So they went with it. No huge inventory of electronics parts taking up room that turned over every few years. Instead they can make more per square foot with bogus air ionizers, RC cars, and over-over-priced A/V & computer stuff. And now TiVo.

          But ya know what? They sell! $45 for a keyboard, the same one as Best Buy for $30 and $10 online, it pays the bills. S-Video cable, hit the local RS for double the cost or go wandering the bowels of Circuit City, past the washing machines, with chirpy kids insisting to 'help' when they wouldn't know an S-Video cable if you flogged 'em with it (yes, thank you, I'm literate, I can read the labels on the store shelves for myself, no need to annoy me with your non-assistance.)

          So RS stays in business. Heck, with cellphones they've even prospered. Sure I laughed out loud the day I read on the bottom of an email "Radio Shack: You've got questions - we've got blank stares. And cell phones!" but truth be told they're more convenient then a carrier's store and the staff is better then the kiosk monkeys.

          This will be a smart partnership for TiVo. They'll get huge visibility, their products won't be lost in the bowels of BigCo. in the dark areas behind the giant flat panel TVs, instead front & center in every mall & burg in the US. That's what TiVo needs, now they just need to give every RS employee a TiVo for 2 months, then let 'em loose to sell away!

          • Interesting comments, but by far the most fascinating part of your post is in referring to the previous poster as "honey".

            Very matronly and it stands out from the usual /. responses.

            Kudos!
      • A couple of scary things on their key statistics: a debt of half-billion (and less than half that much cash on hand). And the -60% earnings growth. The low P/E is very promising, but if their earnings are falling rather than rising it's a red herring.

        New management may be able to turn it around. Best of luck. I do miss the old Radio Shack, and I wish there were a Fry's around here.
    • by djmurdoch (306849) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:30AM (#14882046)
      If TiVo doesn't offer lifetife subscriptions anymore, then it might just suggest that they won't be around for anyone's lifetime.

      I'd say it suggests just the opposite. If I think I'll be around for a few years, then offering lifetime service is an expensive offering. First, I have to take on a long term commitment, with no long term cash flow. Second, it allows customers to lock in current subscription rates, preventing me from getting any extra cash if I raise them in the future.

      If I think I'll probably be bankrupt next year, then I may as well label my one year subscription as "lifetime". Maybe I'll sell more, and it will delay the bankruptcy.
      • I've been a long time TiVo user and have seen the pros and cons of a lifetime subscription. Pros: No monthly fees and will pay for itself in about 2-years. Cons: The subscription is tied to the TiVo you bought. If for any reason you want to upgrade your tivo you have to get another lifetime/monthly subscription. I always went with the monthly subscription as I didn't think I would keep a TiVo more than 3 years. I probably should've gotten a lifetime subscription for my Series 1 TiVo. I upgraded to a Series

        • Re:Foreboding signs (Score:3, Informative)

          by Sethb (9355)
          You miscalculated in choosing the monthly fee option, I've had 6 TiVos since the year 2000, and always bought Lifetime. I've always sold those units later on eBay, or to friends, and recouped most, if not all of the Lifetime service I paid on them, which I would roll over to my next box. Lifetime service meant there was an increased value attached to your box, which you could recover when you sold it. The only time that monthly service made sense was if you knew you wouldn't have the box more than 23 mon
      • Very true, thought TiVos lifetime subscription only covers the model number you buy meaning if you upgrade you have to get a new lifetime subscription. So far this has kept them from having to deal with the long term pains, and from what I've seen most "lifetimers" are more likly to upgrade before 2 years are out (generally a lifetime subscription cost about 2 years of monthly subscriptions) anyways.
        • My 1st TiVo is going to be 6 years old in a few months. I didn't buy a lifetime for the first 1.5 years, so they got $180 plus the $199 lifetime fee from me. It is still running fine with a recent hard drive in my Dad's living room. Being a series 1 the only resell value is the Lifetime sub and that is declining as the series 2 units keep offering more features.

    • Don't really see it that way, I see it more that they looked at the model for cell phones and figured to go that way. They have been loosing money and need to increase rates or make more sales and they are hoping for both with this. With the lower buy in costs and that is a major factor from more widespread use it is the way to go.

      As for cost say you purchased a Tivo with lifetime and use it for 3 years, then upgrade to a hopfully newer model vs the new model.
      Current cost: $216 for unit, $299 for life
    • by Thing 1 (178996) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @09:08AM (#14882189) Journal
      If TiVo doesn't offer lifetife subscriptions anymore, then it might just suggest that they won't be around for anyone's lifetime.

      That's not how I'd expect a capitalist to run their business.

      I would expect them to continue selling lifetime subscriptions up to and including the day that they file corporate bankruptcy papers.

      I would also expect to see them begin to market the lifetime subscriptions more heavily.

      So this, to me, does not indicate that they're going out of business any time sooner. It indicates to me that they want to maximize their revenue, and they feel that they'll be around longer than $250 / $13/month = 19.2 months or under 2 years. By no longer selling lifetime contracts, they will be net positive within two years, on new sales. And, it'll be recurring revenue, instead of a one-time income and then recurring expenses (powering the servers that serve the program guide, paying to have all those phone numbers to dial-in, etc).

      • powering the servers that serve the program guide, paying to have all those phone numbers to dial-in, etc).
        From what I've seen more and more people are using their internet connections to get updates. Their newest models include ethernet by default don't they?
  • by phozz bare (720522) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:14AM (#14881983)
    Not exactly on topic, but this reminds me of one of the Fun Facts about Kibonia [kibo.com]:

    "Web domains in Kibonia (.KB) are available for only fifteen schwas a year. They can be reserved forever, provided that payment of fifteen schwas per year is received in advance."

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:17AM (#14881992)
    The more I read about the emasculation of various service plans and firmware pieces in the PVR space, the more my lifetime subscription to SonicBlue and my commercial-crushing early-model RTV4504 begin to look like Sacred Lost Crystal Technology from Ancient Atlantis.

    Eventually something will break that I can't fix, or some double-A agency will wise up to the fact that I haven't seen a spot break in seven or eight years, and I'll have to bite the MythTV bullet, but until then, *I* control the Vertical and the Horizontal...
    • by ckotchey (184135)
      Hear hear! I second, third and fourth that motion!
      My ReplayTV 4504 is the best electronics purchase I've ever made, and the fact that I could upgrade the hard drive in it was icing on the cake. It's been wonderful being able to use DVArchive to store programs on my PC, to be able to send shows to my friend, and vice versa, and last night I discovered www.poopli.com - which is a fantastic way to find people who have recorded a show I missed and have them send it to me!
      The only thing I regret is them not ma
  • by pla (258480) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:24AM (#14882017) Journal
    they will be dropping their lifetime subscription option

    Will they just stop offering it and honor existing owners, or do they plan to force everyone to downgrade to a monthly subscription model? And does this include their free "basic" service?

    If the latter, and it includes their free basic service, they can expect one hell of a class-action from folks like me who bought an OEM TiVo box (as opposed to rolling their own Myth box) only because of the free lifetime basic service.


    Heh... From the article, "According to Rogers, with TiVo's higher monthly fees and one year lock in they have increased the lifetime value of a TiVo customer by over $100."

    Do they really want to say things like that in public? It might sound optimistic and fluffy, but just means "we will milk an extra hundred bucks from suckers who use TiVo every 2-3 years". Not the best PR material...
  • by profet (263203) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:28AM (#14882033)
    Well... at least I'll get a hell of a lot of money for my TiVo with lifetime sub on ebay.

    Remember lifetime sub was for the lifetime of the unit, not your lifetime.

    Also. The only thing that has changed is that they have dropped Lifetime subs and added more subscription options.

    You'll still be able to go to a store and buy a unit, and get a service only subsription for $12 and change. You'll also be able to buy a second service only subscription and get the multi-service discount of $6 and change on the additional units.

    The change is that if you don't want to eat the cost of a unit upfront, there are news subscription options where the cost is amortized for a couple of years.
  • This is sort of sucks. I still have my original TiVo Series 1 (Made by Sony) that is at least 5 years old now. (Maybe more.) I got a lifetime subscription for like $200 when I bought it, and it's still chugging along. To most people, the lifetime subscription option was particularly attractive, because most don't want another monthly bill. And in retrospect, it was worth it, because I have been paying an average of $3.33 a month.

    I know that the industry wants to maintain a sustainable income source, but
    • Re:Poor TiVo (Score:4, Informative)

      by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @09:53AM (#14882502) Homepage
      The first Tivo I used was bought with a lifetime subscription in 1999, one of the original Philips models. It's since needed a replacement hard drive (at which point the original owner gave the box to me and upgraded to a newer model), and the modem port blew up (switched to the serial port and ultimately a TivoNet card); with those repairs it's still running fine. As of right now that puts this one at around $2.75/month for its lifetime.

      The payback period for the lifetime subscription has been between 2 and 3 years of product use, well within the expected lifetime of the box. Even in the rare case where the Tivo fails before then, it usually adds something to the salvage value of the unit if sold on ebay. As such, I have advised everyone who purchases a Tivo that they should consider the lifetime subscription part of the purchase price of the unit, and to look at it as a 3 year purchase--after which they would normally expect another couple of years worth of free service before the hard drive fails and they need to spend more money.

      Now I'm going to have to tell them something else altogether, as Tivo has just priced itself out of the market. Looks like it's time to get familiar with my local cable provider's DVR box.
  • by AudioEfex (637163) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:33AM (#14882055)
    SO what? Only a tiny percentage of customers ever used lifetime anyway. Buying a lifetime today would be silly anyway, as the lifetime fee is the same as about three years paying monthly - that's a long time to recop an investment in a consumer electronics product at this juncture in TV history.


    TiVo is actually very smart to offer the new "no money down" plans - that's the #1 complaint I hear from people as to why they don't buy a TiVo; many people do not like buying a product and THEN paying a monthly fee. Conversely, most people thought the idea of paying an additional $300 for something, even if it meant no monthly fees ever, was ridiculous as well - they just couldn't wrap their heads around it.


    TiVo does exactly what I need it to do, which is why I have one. PC-based soloutions are at best clunky, and I have an elegant little box in my living room that does it all for me. I transfer shows back and forth from my TiVo to my PC when I want to archive them, and burn them to DVD when I wish.


    The biggest complaint about SD TiVo's is that you can't record two programs at once; that's why many people have two TiVo's. Personally, I live very well with that limitation - there is only so much TV one can watch in a day, week, or lifetime and having to make some choices keeps me from getting OD'd on too much unlimited choice. Sure, choice is almost 100% better in any instance, but here I actually like that I personally have to make a choice between some programs (and the DVD recorder is always there if I really, really have a conflict).


    DVR's so completely change how you think about your time, especially in relation to TV (obviously) - but I've used some of the "other" ones and nothing does it for me like a TiVo. Simple, elegant, and it does everything I want. I'm also a monthly subscriber, like the vast majority of TiVo owners, so the removal of the program isn't even going to be a blip on most of our radars.

    • DVR's so completely change how you think about your time, especially in relation to TV (obviously) - but I've used some of the "other" ones and nothing does it for me like a TiVo.

      Don't you mean "you stop thinking about how your time relates to TV"? Other people I talk to are "disconnected" for 24, Survivor, etc. I don't have the faintest idea when any of these shows are on and that's a good thing.
  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:40AM (#14882081) Homepage
    ...Additionally they announced that their highly anticipated Series 3 HDTV standalone model with CableCARD support will not be available until after "mid year," a new retail partnership with Radio Shack

    Boy if a partnership with "You've got question, we got blank stares" formerly run by someone who lied about his degree doesn't get the investors excited, I don't know what will!

  • Goodbye TiVo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I own one Series 1 that I bought back in 2000 and two Series 2 that I bought back in 2002. I knew that I would be using these products for a long time in the future, so I naturally purchased a lifetime subscription plan. In light of this news, I will not purchase another unit, even the admittedly attractive Series 3. If I purchase hardware, it will have a fixed cost, and it will be fully functional until it dies of old age. If I cannot do that, I will "rent".

    This decision represents TiVo walking off the cli
  • by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:41AM (#14882089)
    For those who didn't RTFA, here's an important point:

    This pricing plan only applies to the current Series 2 models. Rogers said that they were not ready to commit to this pricing model for the upcoming Series 3 HDTV TiVo due out later this year. Pricing on the Series 3 will be announced closer to its launch.


    While it doesn't look like a good sign that they are dropping lifetime for Series 2, it's not yet ruled out for the next generation. Here's hoping...
    • Complete transcript (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:58AM (#14882159)
      Ah, a commenter on TFA points out the complete transcript [cestockblog.com] nyud.net mirror [nyud.net] of the call is available. A relevant quote:

      [Stuff about the upfront-only plan] With this new pricing plan we will no longer be offering a lifetime service option.

      To be clear, this new pricing for now will only be available for sales done through TiVo.com. We are exploring the possibility of launching similar types of programs into retail later in the year.


      Then later in the Q&A portion:


      Q: .. Secondly, will the pricing terms also be available when you roll out your dual tuner HD box later this year?

      A: .. When it comes to, what we call our high def product later in the year, we have not yet set specific marketing or pricing arrangements for that yet. As we get closer to that timeframe we'll be looking to put that in place. This applies to our existing TiVo line of products that are in the market today.


      So it sounds like lifetime for current models could possibly continue to be available at retail (though I can't say I've heard of a retail outlet offering a lifetime priced bundle), and the next gen HD is still yet to be determined.
  • Here is a transcript [cestockblog.com] of the full conference call and a quick take [cestockblog.com] of the two most important minutes of that call that relate to the new pricing strategy.
  • by antdude (79039) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @08:52AM (#14882139) Homepage Journal
    I avoided TiVo and Replay due to their subscription requirements and high prices.

    Do the newer PVRs with timeshift and DTV supports and without service subscription requirement (e.g., don't need the fancy TV guides, recommendations for other shows, voting, etc.) exist? I do not subscribe to satellite and cable TV services (I am a cheap punk, and I don't watch that many TV shows and movies) since I watch through broadcasts. I know DVD recorders exist, but they are quite limited in how much recordings especially with those HDTV (e.g., 1080i). Plus, they are expensive the last time I checked.

    Currently, I use an old fashion VCR (record analog TV shows that don't require high quality picture and audio) and a computer with a HDTV tuner PCI card [www.bbti.us] (acts like a PVR, but it is buggy, unstable, and not reliable like a VCR or a standalone hardware-based PVR; also don't like leaving computers on at home). I would love to replace my VCR before February 2009 before digital TV is enforced in USA.

    Are there any types of hardware PVRs out there in local retail stores? I live in Los Angeles, CA, USA area. I would love to get a cheap hardware based PVR (no computers) that is like a digital VCR that can handle high quality recordings and playbacks and use over the air (OTA) broadcasts.
    • All hardware PVRs are computers. I presume you are looking for something with custom hardware and software that will not allow you to use the machine as a general-purpose computer easily. I don't know of any machines like that other than the TiVo variants, although there are a few companies (Myth.ic is one) that sell pre-configured MythTV boxes. No subscription, hardware and software pre-installed for you, and more capacity than any TiVo on the market. Also over a grand, though.
  • Interestingly the Reg has an article titled Industry goes mad for IPTV [theregister.co.uk]. From the article:"There was a queue at IPTV Forum in London last week, all the way back past the lifts and round into the bar area. That was the first statement about what should have been yet another unsurprising show about IPTV, that there is real main stream interest out there now and everyone wants to get in on the action.".

    "IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) [wikipedia.org] describes a system where a digital television service is delivered to sub

  • Blogs (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by kevin_conaway (585204)
    Normally, I don't mind Slashdot linking to blogs, especially those that don't contain ads. However, usually when Slashdot links to a blog (which is usually commentary), they also link to a reputable news source. Blog links by themselves don't cut it.

    That said, what do folks think is going to happen to those of us that already have lifetime subscriptions?
    • That said, what do folks think is going to happen to those of us that already have lifetime subscriptions?

      I'd suggest you read the fine print on your contract. If it gives TiVo a way out, they'll probably take it. If not, you should buy some life insurance.
  • to a cable/satellite DVR. If you can either pay $17/month for 3 years to TiVo, or $5/month indefinately to your cable/satellite operator, which one will you chose?
  • Tivo, NetFlix, Phone, music, TV (cable or satellite), Internet access, paper (magazines / newspaper), ink for printers...

    What is the next subscription model for a service I've gotta have? And when am I going to notice that the cumulative effect is keeping me from saving enough money for the kids college or my retirement?

    I did lifetime "memberships" for Tivo Series 1 and 2. Both are still running strong. I like new gear, but I'm not constantly replacing stuff "that just works" in order to satisfy "my geek
  • I'm a HUGE fan of TiVo. I've defend it against the Myth fanboys. But now pricing doesn't matter. Over a 6 year period a new Tivo will cost WAY more than a Myth setup. Heck, it's even more than a Windows Media Center PC!! A Media Center PC will even do HD, now.

    ***Monthly fees are going up! I have a lifetime sub. I don't use Tivo's dial-up because my moden was dead, so my lifetime didnt pay for that service. Tivo doesnt support my software anymore. My lifetime sub is nothing more than program data. A
  • by sweetnjguy29 (880256) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @10:01AM (#14882574) Journal
    TiVo is in a lot of financial trouble, looking at its key statistics: http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=TIVO [yahoo.com]

    The company has negative earnings per share and its profit margin is almost -25%! Almost 15% of the companies shares on the market are shorted. Thats crazy!

    I think that dropping the Lifetime Service Plan is a desperate gimmick to get more revenue. It might work, but who knows.

    However, I don't think computer based PVRs are going to make a dent in the market...they are too complicated. Adding a card into a computer is too complicated for Joe Schmo. Watching TV on a computer screen is an alien concept to most people. A friend who was over last night thought that watching TV on my PVR-350 was 'interesting'. "You do realize that this is really weird, right?" she said, "I'm not sure if I really liked the experience." But the idea of not having a monthly fee for TiVo intreaged her.

    But...I think that computer based PVRs will make a huge dent in the tech savvy market...because it is flexable...and for now...DRM free.
    • by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @10:26AM (#14882772) Homepage
      TiVO has a deep patent portfolio that is starting to be leveraged against the companies that are ripping off their inventions. As each new box comes out, TiVO is reverse engineering it and finding patent violations.

      TiVO also has 4-5 million boxes in service (far far more than number two), each with upgradeable operating systems. They can leverage this in a "google ads" kind of way to link TV content and internet-based advertising, and blow the doors off the competition.

      As is often the case, people are missing the forest for the trees. People look at the PVRs as a recorder, or as a mechanism to deliver content on-demand (both of which are true). But the PVR a la TiVO will become a novel advertising stream, with click-through ads during television content that will be worth a mint and have the potential to revolutionize TV-based advertising models. Then TiVO will be giving the boxes away to get your ad revenue.
  • Missing the point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doctor Faustus (127273) <Slashdot@nOspAM.WilliamCleveland.Org> on Thursday March 09, 2006 @10:06AM (#14882616) Homepage
    Although people keep bringing up the loss of DirecTV over and over and over and over again, personally I do not think that this is as great of an issue as people make it out to be.
    ...
    TiVo makes far more money on their standalone boxes than the pittance that they receive on their DirecTV boxes. The reduction in DirecTV business is perhaps one of the most overhyped stories out there on TiVo today.

    It may be overhyped from the business side, but there are a lot of customers who really love our DirecTiVo units, and it *is* a big deal to us.

    In fact, if some of DirecTV's customers have such bad experiences with DirecTV's generic PVRs it would not surprise me to see these same people buy Series 3 standalone TiVo's due out later this year
    Sorry, no. DirecTiVo is both cheaper than stand-alone and better quality, due to the lack of the superfluous digital-to-analog-to-digital conversions. I might be willing to pay an extra $10/month to keep the TiVo interface over DirecTV's new one, but I will always take a DVR that's integrated with satellite or digital cable over a stand-alone.

    What I do think might be more of a draw to the DirecTiVo people is the Comcast DVRs with TiVo software that's supposed to come out later this year. As for me, though, I just got an R10 DirecTivo from Weaknees (215 hours!) while I still could, and I expect to use it for the next several years.
  • by tacokill (531275)
    Just one question: WHERE IS TIVO's HDTV UNIT?

    It's only been, what...3 years since they announced it?
  • by Chicken04GTO (957041) on Thursday March 09, 2006 @11:35AM (#14883395)
    All this weeping and gnashing of teeth about Tivo reducing functionality...I haven't noticed any of it. I use it for basic functions...I setup season passes, it records everything I tell it too, nearly flawlessly, and I can skip commercials. I tried the PC based solution, and it was just too much hassle. Bizzare unsolvable video/audio synch issues, keeping the tv schedule/guide stuff uptodate and trouble free...driver conflicts, manual software updates...I might have saved some cash, but the amount of my very valuable time wasted trying to get it to work made it useless in my opinion. Alot of us here are geeks, and I work all day solving technology based problems...when i get home and want to relax and veg on the couch for a bit, the last thing I want to do is figure out why something I wanted recorded isn't there or is borked up. I love Tivo, because its easy to use and reliable.

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