Suddenlink Launches TiVo Mini

Dave Zatz —  February 7, 2013

When we’d talked TiVo Mini at CES the company informed us that while retail launch may be a few months off, cable partner Suddenlink was in the process of rolling out the new TiVo extender. Now, just few weeks later, Suddenlink has refreshed their TiVo promotional pages to highlight the Mini as a core component of their “any-room” DVR. Of course, customers will also require the four tuner TiVo Premiere Elite/XL4/Q, as the hub for the Mini to receive both recorded content and hijack a tuner for live television. From the TiVo Mini Quick Guide embedded above:

Thank you for choosing the high-definition TiVo® Mini DVR companion from Suddenlink. With the TiVo Mini, you can watch live TV, search and browse for shows, watch shows saved on TiVoPremiere DVRs in your home network, enjoy Suddenlink Video onDemand, and more!

In terms of pricing, Suddenlink tells me that TiVo Mini rentals run $6 – $11/month, dependent on region… and perhaps package or bundle. As TiVo would be wise to avoid undercutting their MSO partners, I’d say this should give us an indication of where TiVo might price the retail variant of the “DVR companion.”

Unfortunately, according to this support note, dynamic tuner allocation hasn’t yet been enabled and each TiVo Mini permanently locks up one of the hub DVR’s four tuners, with a maximum of two client Minis virtually hanging off a single 4-tuner Premiere. In fact, we have it on good authority that at least one TiVo partner will not move forward with a TiVo Mini deployment until a more flexible configuration is provided. Related, much of the industry is moving to a 6-tuner configuration – as we’ve seen from Cox and Verizon FiOS. So perhaps that 6-tuner Pace DVR displayed in TiVo’s Cable Show booth will further provide a more robust whole-home solution in the near future.

 

13 responses to Suddenlink Launches TiVo Mini

  1. That’s a great advertisement. It conveys quite a bit in 30 seconds. I wonder what that pricing model portends for a future retail release.

  2. Assuming they stick with the subscription model, as they told Ben on camera at CES, I figure it’d land in the $8-10 range to come in cheaper than a $13 MSD TiVo and not to undercut partners like Suddenlink. As far as hardware pricing, we’d also have to assume it’d be cheaper than official 500GB 2-tuner Premieres which run $150.

  3. I’m betting on equal to or less than the Stream (<$129) and a subscription of $6.95/mo or $199 lifetime.

  4. While I understand pressure from their partners will impact their pricing decisions, why do you think TiVo would feel the need to price service for a retail box customers pay for above the fees paid for a subsidized box that is provided at no up front cost by an MVPD. In other words, Suddenlink’s price consists of both a service fee and a hardware subsidy, a retail box will have no subsidy, or at least a significantly reduced one.

    If TiVo offers the Mini for free with a 2 year subscription requirement then pricing it above Suddenlink’s price seems reasonable, otherwise the monthly fees we discussing are like Apples and Oranges.

  5. Indeed, they are apples and oranges. But in a vacuum of info, all we can do is speculate. And perception is reality. If folks believe it could be significantly cheaper, accurate or not, to choose retail over Suddenlink or RCN it could become more of a business challenge for TiVo (as they keep and pitch additional MSOs). I can’t imagine a free retail TiVo Mini with required two year subscription. But I could see $100-$130 hardware and something like an $8 monthly fee.

  6. But Dave, as a cable customer choosing to buy an XL4 instead of rent from Suddenlink, you have a huge upfront cost as we all know. I don’t see how pricing the Mini fairly for retail impacts the usual customer that doesn’t want to lay out a bunch of cash for a Tivo, in other words.

    These markets are completely apples to oranges, and Tivo will shoot themselves in the foot by charging $8-10 monthly for a Mini. But as we’ve discussed on TCF, all that matters to many of us is the ‘lifetime’ cost of the box.

  7. The other angle to consider is that the first round of TiVo Mini retail purchasers will be folks such as myself who just decommissioned a TiVo Premiere… which was earning TiVo $15/mo. We may pine for a budget extender solution, but that doesn’t mean we’ll get one.

    Regarding Lifetime, if monthly were to run $8 I’d put Lifetime at $250. But who knows, maybe TiVo will surprise us all and price it like the Stream – $130 upfront, no fees.

  8. Even at $8 that is higher than I would want. I’m only paying $6.95 a month for my launch Premiere that is on monthly. I would not want to pay more per month for a Mini than I am paying for a Premiere.

  9. If TiVo goes with a monthly fee, the lowest I could imagine would be $6.95. Most people currently on $6.95 were grandfathered when migrating a MSD plan (which is no longer available) or they were offered it as a retention rate when disconnecting a box.

  10. With a permanent tuner assignment, I wouldn’t hook up more than one of these in my house, meaning the occasional use guest bedroom/Slingbox TiVo HD would be replaced but not the one in the master bedroom.

    I can live with $150. I can live with $8.00/mo, though like others I’d prefer zero.

  11. I see myself ‘releasing’ a tuner to the mini only when I am watching video through the mini, but when I am not I would release the tuner back to the Premier. It would be a PIA but I would be turning the tuner on and off to the mini until tivo figured out a dynamic solution.

  12. Another data point for Mini pricing is Dish which is charging $7 per month for their Joey client set-tops. See http://www.multichannel.com/satellite/dish-spending-millions-ads-market-ad-skipping-dvr/141668

    With Dish and Suddenlink charging in the $6 to $7 range for a leased set-top, I’m starting to think that TiVo will need to be significantly lower for their monthly pricing on the Mini. I think it would be a very smart move for them to launch it unsubsidized with no monthly fee.

  13. “Another data point for Mini pricing is Dish which is charging $7 per month for their Joey client set-tops.”

    $7 seems reasonable for a junior marsupial, but that doesn’t include food costs. And the food bill only gets more massive as they grow.

    Same thing with buying baby alligators. They’re cute at first, but how long ’til you end up flushing them down the toilet to terrorize the sewer system?