TiVo Resurrects Lifetime Service

Dave Zatz —  May 15, 2008

TiVo’s been testing the return Lifetime Service on a promotional basis, and I’ve just received word that it’s back for good. (Until they shift course again…) Current DVR subscriptions run $12.95/month or $129/year, so it’d take about 2.5-3 years before benefiting from the $399 Lifetime Service fee. And since Lifetime Service is box-specific, you may want to save your pennies for whatever new (tru2way) TiVo standalone model is introduced during that timeframe. The going rate for secondary (and more) TiVo units is $9.95/month, $99/year, or $299/lifetime.

27 responses to TiVo Resurrects Lifetime Service

  1. Dave:

    Thanks for the heads-up. I am a longtime TiVo owner (still have a function Philips Series 1) but the current SDV brouhaha with my TiVoHD and Cablevision along with the need to have a STB for every TV has me wondering if it isn’t time to give up TV!

    Pax vobiscum,
    Richard

  2. This is a really smart move…I didnt order my TiVoHD until the promo with Lifetime service came around..I know many people that stay away from tivo due to the service fee but if you just add the $299 into the $199 for a refurb unit, it seems a lot better espically when you think about paying comcast $9-$12 a month for the rental of there terrible STB’s. If you include the money you save by not renting a box, the time until you break even drops below 3 years.

  3. I remember TiVo “lifetime” service that my boss had back in 1998. He really resented that “lifetime” didn’t mean AS LONG AS YOU LIVE, and lost his “lifetime” service when that whole forced upgrade thing happened.

    My suggestion would be to have the TiVo marketing department use a different name ( same suggestion goes out to AT&T and their Orwellian double-speak “Unlimited Data Plan” which is limited to 2 GB a month ). Possibilities include:

    TiVo – “One box, one bill”
    Tivo – “Lifetime DEVICE service”
    TiVo – “Pay once per model”
    TiVo – “The Helter Skelter plan”

    …just kidding about that last one ;)

  4. meh, at 399$ I will stick to my 6.95 a month grandfathered subs and just keep upgrading the DVR box as needed.

    But good news for anyone buying the first TiVo.

  5. Yeah, I’m not sure this is a good value prop – especially with the tech in flux. My Series3 is Lifetimed and my TiVoHD is $6.95/mo. Though that THD has been splitting time with a Vista Media Center ($0/mo).

  6. Todd: if your boss bought TiVo lifetime service in 1998, then he should be eligible to transfer it to a new box as part of their grandfathering program. Any lifetime subs activated before 1/21/2000 or so can be transfered for free to a new box by calling TiVo customer service and requesting it (last I heard).

    As for the new lifetime service cost – $399 is MUCH more expensive than it was originally. Wasn’t it $199 to begin with? Then $299. Now it’s $399. Like Dave says, by the time you’ve made your money back on your lifetime sub, your box is obsolete.

  7. Add me to the list of people who don’t understand the attraction of habing lifetime service on a device that is being refreshed every 1-2 years and that can die at any moment. My S2 single-tuner model died on me after less than 2 years (recorded fine but would reboot a few minutes into playback) and it was cheaper to buy a new S2 DT model than to try to repair S2 ST.

    Now, if TiVo offered a true lifetime service, I’d sign up for that right away. As of now, I’m happy paying $6.95+tax for my one S2 DT unit.

  8. I have 2 lifetimes on S1 boxes I keep swearing I’ll use for something someday… Here’s a thought though, if so-called-analog tv goes away and we start living full time in a 16×9 world, will my SVR-2000’s be completely useless? Might be worth it just to transfer the lifetimes now and make some use of them.

  9. All I can say is:

    THANK GOD!!!

    …Dale

  10. Brian Purcell May 15, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    I just bought my TiVoHD two weeks ago with $399 Lifetime (I already owned an S2DT). Now it seems if I’d only waited two weeks, I would’ve saved $100. :-(

  11. return, cancel, repurchase

  12. This is a definite motivator for me to upgrade my S2 to a HD model. I figure I’ll wait until I have a HDTV, but hopefully that’ll happen this summer.

  13. Brian Purcell May 16, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Actually, I called up CSR, and they reimbursed my credit card the $100. I didn’t have to jump through any hoops, either.

  14. Initially, I was happy to see this as I’ve been a lifetime subscriber since my Sony Series I box. But, then I realized that in December I paid $299 to transfer my tivo lifetime service to my new Tivo HD, and that is now the price for a second lifetime sub. So instead of having two lifetime subs, I have one lifetime and one 1-year for the same price. Timing is everything I guess.

  15. I still don’t see how this is that great a deal. $200 for the box and $400 for lifetime service (i.e. guide updates) is still $600, and for that price you could get a decent Vista Media Center computer to hook up to your TV. Not only do you never have to pay a subscription, but you can use the same machine to watch web video (via Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon), play music, DVDs, etc.

  16. Chris Cassidy June 14, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Or better yet why not for $200-250 go out buy one of those Magnavox/Phillips HDD/DVD Recorder. Granted it’s pretty much a no frills experience compared to TiVo in terms of interactive guides and dual tuners but there’s no montly fees and you have the ability to directly save to a DVD.

  17. I’ve never ended up on the winning end of lifetime service.

  18. At one time, I did see the benefit of purchasing the lifetime subscription, but that was because I was oblivious to any other alternatives to DVR/PVR. “Windoze” Media Center is such an alternative, but there’s a vastly cheaper and yet highly capable alternative, if you’re willing to go the open source route… Linux & MythTV.

  19. Smart move. This is what hooked me almost 8 years ago. I bought 2 DirecTivo units at that time and signed up for the life time service because the break even point was just 2 years (I figured with the money I shelled out I would be with DirecTv/Tivo for at least that long). Even though DirecTv no longer sells a Tivo HD unit, they were smart enough to honor the lifetime service Tivo offer with their DVR as well (as long as I stay a DirecTv customer). I bought 4 DirecTivo units before I was finally forced to switch to DirecTv’s DVR when I went HD. The lifetime contract kept me coming back for more.

  20. My Lifetime sub on the Series 2 I bought a couple years ago (I’ve lost track) has easily paid for itself by now…

    I don’t see why you’d think a TiVo is the type of box you’d wanna upgrade so frequently, the dual tuner was tempting but I didn’t really feel like I -had- to upgrade ’till the HD versions came out…

    I haven’t even done that just yet because the cable (-and- satellite) HD programming in Puerto Rico is still rather poor (we get every single channel anyone in the US does, but not in HD just yet /cry).

    I guess the boxes dying and taking the Lifetime sub with them is another story altogether, though if it’s the HDD that’s failing (most likely) you can always back that up, or you could w/the S2 SD boxes…

    I dunno if the S3 are any more complex to hook up to a PC and manipulate, since it has all that CableCard DRM rigmarole.

  21. We have two S2s and an unused S1 all with lifetime subscriptions. The S1 was bought in late 2000 and the S2s are from late 2001. I would say the lifetime subs have paid for themselves several times over. Two of the units have had their primary HDD replaced due to failure but in each case I had taken a backup of the drive so a cheap ATA drive later and it was up and running again since the subscription is tied to the device, not the hdd. Other than the HDDs these boxes should be very long-lived.

    It’s similar to the debate over whether to lease or buy a car. If you replace your widget every 2-3 years you should lease it. If you keep it longer, you’re better off buying.

    Now, let’s see if I can get Tivo to transfer the S1’s lifetime to the S3 or THD I have my eye on…

  22. ******** BUYERS BEWARE OF TIVO’s *******
    ***** SO CALLED “LIFETIME SERVICE” *******

    THERE SHOULD BE A CLASS ACTION SUIT

    We bought a SVR-2000 series I Sony along with the lifetime sub thinking we would always have that service. After all lifetime should mean just that right? No way. It turns out our series I which we still love like a family member will be a white elephant on Feb 9 due to the fact it can not record DTV. Tivo offers a refurb unit for $99 bucks but to keep your so called “lifetime” sub you are slapped with a “transfer fee” of $299. What you know Joe? Let’s face it, they are giving it to you. So instead of calling it a new subscription they call it a transfer fee. You know that’s what Tivo wanted for you to have to buy in to another lifetime service agreement. They lied and deceived us. What’s new? I knew it was too good to be true. “Lifetime” doesn’t mean lifetime.

    Because of the fact that even though our Tivo still works perfectly and we don’t need any more frills, we are forced to buy another Tive and another “Lifetime” sub. That stinks and once again America, they are doing it to you.

    I guess I can’t blame them after all they are not making any more money from me but I did pay the $299. JUST DON’T LIE TO ME AND TELL ME LIFETIME!

    We are giving Tivo up after eight years and going with another direction. There are many others ways of going at it now and it’s time to take one.

  23. I agree w/ Trace. After 5 years of being a loyal Tivo customer, I am ditching it. I have HDTV but a series 2 recorder with lifetime service. It is a real hassle to switch between my cable service and tivo, etc. so I have stopped using the Tivo all together. And, if I am going to have to buy another recorder, then also another subscription service (which I thought I had paid for with the “lifetime”), then it just isn’t economical. I can just use my cable company’s dvr service, even if it isn’t as good as Tivos. I’m very disappointed as I do love my Tivo, but it just doesn’t make economic sense. So much for a lifetime service….

  24. for trace,
    can’t you just hook the output from those new digital converter box (for older analog TV) to your old tivo and still get the same functionality?
    the old tivo tuner should work fine.

  25. I just purchased 2 Philips S1 boxes from a thrift shop. 1 has the writing “lifetime” on the back in permaneant ink and “145 hours”. I had just started getting into tivo because of a tip I heard on the Leo Laporte – tech Guy Show. He literally wrote the book on hacking Series 1 tivo boxes. Turns out that the one with lifetime service has an awesome drive 120 GB Maxtor – that isn’t working. The other still works great, but the account is code 8 – cancelled. Had a heck of a time figuring out how to get it to dial out as I am in a new area code, and zip code than the previous owner. I may try to piece them together, and return the remnants for a store credit…btw – I watched, and recorded DTV today – no problem. Past channel 34…I did not experience any issues with DTV conversion. But, I don;t think you can record, and surf at the same time anymore because of tuner issues.

  26. my three year tivo package is about to end. it was supposed to renew at the same monthly rate of $8.31/month, but tivo will not honor it. apparently tivo is known for their dishonesty for donig this. anyone interested in a class action law suit?

  27. I have had a svr2000 for almost 12 years. I have had to replace HD 3 times which was no big deal as I upgraded storage each time. I hat to go from a ethernet card when modem went out after 4 years but through it all still have lifetime Sub paid 199 for plus I have never had any problem getting cable, DTV or dish. Not sure why everyone says cant get DTV. I figure if I amortiize cost of everything including Hard drives and orig sub I have spent about 3 dollars a month. What a bargain and it continues to purr along.