I thought TiVo had moved on from variable pricing schemes, but recent visits to tivo.com suggest otherwise.
Traditionally, you’d buy your TiVo hardware and subscribe to monthly service at a single rate ($12.95). Yet, in what I assume is an effort to ease the barrier of entry, TiVo is now offering multiple pricing permutations. Buy a Premiere direct from TiVo for $300 and pay the standard $12.95/mo, or take a price cut on the DVR in exchange for a higher monthly fee ($19.95). $0 upfront, locks you into a 2 year commitment while $99 requires one year of service at the elevated rate.
On the surface, it seems like it could be a decent deal but there’s some fine print worth taking a look at:
After your 2-year commitment ends, you will automatically continue to receive the TiVo service at the same rate on a month-to-month basis.
So, assuming TiVo still offers monthly service that’s lower than $19.95/mo in one or two years, you’d have to cancel and resubscribe to get a lower rate (which they hope you’d wouldn’t think of). Of course, I still contend that locking folks into contracts scares potential new customers while variable pricing can be a source of confusion (as I said in 2005) – thus replacing one barrier (perceived price premium) with another. What I’d prefer to see TiVo try is an Xbox LIVE sort of model… let’s say something like $249 for TiVo Premiere hardware with service running a flat $99/yr.