TiVo Mini Drops Service Fee


Best Buy and Weaknees have seemingly confirmed our earlier intel that the TiVo Mini would be subject to some sort of favorable pricing adjustment. Indeed, while the DVR extender jumps in price from $100 to $150, the TiVo service fee requirement is no more — effectively lowering the price of Mini by $100 and making a Roamio-based whole-home solution far more palatable. Further, this move clears the way for fee-free Roku and Amazon Fire TV clients. TiVo’s official page has the Mini out of stock until 9/9… which is probably about when we can expect some sort of official announcement. Who’s in?

116 thoughts on “TiVo Mini Drops Service Fee”

  1. So the follow-on question… what happens to folks who bought a Mini at the old price point and are currently paying $6/month (versus the $150 Lifetime)? Are they stuck with fees, will they be offered a special Lifetime promo rate, or will TiVo completely take care of them?

    I have two Lifetimed Minis – and they pretty much saved TiVo for me. Quick, small, and quiet. Once Vudu and Amazon hit, they’ll be pretty dang well equipped.

  2. It sure would be nice if they just comp’d them once they’ve reach 50 bucks in monthly fees. Or for people with unactivated stock, can they pay a 50 dollar one-time fee for lifetime.. oh the questions…

  3. Already begrudgingly went in for 2 Minis at full price and 1 at $175. This drop validates how I felt about the ridiculous fee from the beginning, and kind of puts a little more salt in those wounds. At the same time, it was my choice to pay it so I can’t really complain.

    I doubt they’re going to make-good. Rare few companies ever would. Even if they tried, it would probably be something dismissive and insulting, like a discount we were already eligible for or a worse deal than what we could get elsewhere. (e.g. $100 off PLS if you buy a Pro at full $600 price.)

    I’d take a Slide Pro though.

  4. TiVo hasn’t done a very good job in retail… their subscriber numbers are like at 2004 numbers. So this pricing move was not the original intent (and it’s not yet clear how their US cable partners like RCN will react). But, combined with the Roamio OTA, they’re clearly experimenting to keep the retail side more than just afloat.

  5. Any chance the fire or ruku fee free tivo client will work for the original 2 tuner premiere owners? It is great that stream works but I don’t see the need in investing any more money in tivo. My 2010 boxes with lifetime work just fine and stream well.

  6. The Premieres saw the Haxe codebase rewrite, so I’d say it’s likely. Beyond existing retail customers, there’s many Premiere-era boxes still being deployed by TiVo’s cable partners – so they need to keep a certain amount of parity and updates flowing (even if not all features are made available to or offered by cable partners). Will it require the Stream? Maybe depends on how the MPEG4 work goes…

  7. I didn’t believe it but You were spot on Dave!

    As for the pricing move down $100 don’t forget that electronics’ prices always drop over time. The TiVo Mini was released Mar 11, 2013 which is 1 1/2 years ago. Even Apple discounts last years iPhone or iPad by $100 after a year.

    And the Mini isn’t standalone so you still need to own a TiVo DVR with subscription.

    As for RCN they only support their leased $10/mo TiVo Mini so I don’t see ,a change. I found that out the hard way! :)

  8. Bryan, I generally only post when I have relatively high confidence… :) This makes the $50 Roamio OTA even more intriguing because it doesn’t support Mini. So, you’re right, they’re banking on you getting into a higher priced DVR. I think it’s a good move. Regarding RCN, I don’t expect a price change – more how will they feel about this, does it undercut what they’re trying to do in some way?

    Brian, there will probably be a date – boxes purchased before subject to X, boxes after subject to Y.

  9. I’m just not convinced this clears the way for a free roku or firetv app. I’m more inclined to think this removes the need to “activate” these devices onto your account with a service agreement. If they’re completely free, there’s just no way to justify 150 for a mini. Plus, its hard to see how they can develop and maintain them at no cost.

  10. Hmm, so I have a mini through my cable company, which charges me $7 a month for it. The reason I didn’t buy one outright was the monthly fee tivo charged. I wonder if I should get one now.

  11. [@Brian Hoyt September 7, 2014 at 8:35 pm
    What if you buy from Amazon for the still $85? Do you get lifetime for free?]

    I just bought one on Amazon for $85 no tax or shipping. I guess I’ll wait to activate or open it to see if that’s the case. If not, I’ll return it.

  12. I would buy another one to replace an existing TiVo HD just to do away with the hassle of the Cable Card and SDV tuner. But I would much prefer if they were able to work with Apple to add an app to Apple TV.

    The lack of availability until the 9th is interesting. It’s probably a coincidence that the 9th is Apple’s big event. But I always thought TiVo is the kind of company Apple should have acquired. But at this point, I’d say there’s no chance of that.

  13. Oh why not…saw that the BB price went up to $150, so I purchased from Amazon for $85…as HarperVision says, we’ll see if it works!

  14. Yeah, I remember hunting ReplayTV units in Circuit Cities with or without stickers when they made an adjustment like this. Which is a follow-on to Bryan’s note about a reduction in costs – while they could be cheaper to produce, this isn’t just a reduction this is entirely flipping the business model. By the by, with TiVo’s limited numbers there may have only been a couple of Mini production runs and of small scale. So who knows what they’re saving over time. I’m still pining for a WiFi TiVo Mini – those at $150, maybe I’ll pick up a third and make it wireless on my own. Hm.

  15. All the talk of speculative Amazon purchases at $85 reminds me of when Tivo changed The Premiere from $299 plus service to $99 with a two-year commitment. The 3rd party retailers were sloppy at adjusting the price, while making it clear that the box at that price carried an onerous 2-yr commitment fee. It was quite the mess and Tivo ultimately employed a purchase date cut-off to determine who got the old/new service pricing. IIRC, there was one retailer which really jumped the gun on the price cut and those people made out with a $99.99 box without 2-year commitment.

  16. I’m in for an Amazon unit. A little annoyed that I could have had three units for the price of the two w/lifetime I bought last year, but as pointed out above, that’s the way electronics/tech works, and I’ve certainly gotten the use out of the units.

  17. “So the follow-on question… what happens to folks who bought a Mini at the old price point and are currently paying $6/month (versus the $150 Lifetime)?”

    They get a free TiVo Mega.

  18. So if I understand correctly, those of you jumping on the $85 Amazon price will be saving a grand total of $65 over the new pricing if and only if TiVo honors the new price structure?

    I’m all for jumping on deals, but this seems to be not worth the time or risk (of return shipping, etc) unless you were about to by a mini anyway.

  19. I jumped at it from Amazon… why not. Chance to save $65. Worst case is I’m out 5-10 to return ship. My guest room may finally have Tivo access!

  20. “I jumped at it from Amazon… why not. Chance to save $65. Worst case is I’m out 5-10 to return ship.”

    Of course, one of the nicest things about Amazon is the free return shipping. They provide you a pre-paid return shipping label to print out. (And, at least at my address, they send a guy to pick up the return package. YMMV on that aspect, as I dunno if it’s universal practice.)

    It’s one of the absurdly pleasant customer service touches that really got me hooked on Amazon in the first place.


    Also, remember to click-thru Dave’s affiliate code.

    (And Dave, have you ever considered putting up a general Amazon search box on your site for affiliate revenue? It’s how I contribute to some of my favorite web logs.)

  21. My TiVo.com Chat Logs:
    Corina: Thank you for contacting TiVo, my name is Corina and I would be happy to assist you. Before we begin, can you tell me if you’re an existing customer?
    Lawson: Yes, I am
    Corina: Thank you, Lawson. What can I help you out with?
    Lawson: I read yesterday that TiVo is dropping the service fee on new TiVo Minis
    Lawson: do you know if that applies to existing units?
    Corina: Since the price change is affecting Product Lifetime Service, only other Minis activated within the past 30 days are eligible for price matching.
    Lawson: The TiVo Mini is $150 now with free lifetime
    Lawson: but I paid $100 for all three of them
    Lawson: So you’re saying TiVo will continue to charge me $5.99/month forever on three Minis?
    Corina: Monthly service is not changing to our knowledge, but you can now activate Lifetime for $49 instead of $149.
    Lawson: It’s still $149 on the website
    Corina: That changes tomorrow when the new pricing is actually released, or we can do that at 877-367-8486 today.
    Lawson: I’ll just wait until tomorrow… thanks

  22. For what it’s worth, Tivo is telling me that this is just a promotion that expires Jan 2015. They state that you purchase the lifetime subscription and they throw in the Mini for no extra cost.

  23. @MrMini,

    That makes sense. The hardware loss would be reflected in an increase in Subscriber Acquisition Costs (SAC) for TiVo’s Q3 and Q4 and the $150 Product Lifetime Service fee is amortized for 66 months at $2.27 per month which minimizes the impact on TiVo-Owned (retail) Average Revenue Per User (ARPU).

  24. MrMini, four month promotions are… unusual. If that is indeed a cut off, I’d say this then is more of a sales experiment. Simultaneously, I sure hope they’re working on a wireless Mini for January – sort of like Apple’s summer educational discounts end right when the new stuff comes in.

    Sam, except it’d be something of an accounting shell game as Amazon, Best Buy, and Weaknees are indeed shipping hardware…?

  25. Dave,
    Completely agree. This “promotion” along with the TiVo OTA are experiments to see what sort of impact TiVo can have on retail metrics while still minimizing SAC.

  26. Yes… it is an accounting shell came governed by FASBA standards. TiVo essentially gets the cash and amortizes the $150 in revenue over 66 months.

  27. I’ve had a Mini for almost a year with lifetime. It actually would have been cheaper to have spent $6 a month for a year plus $50 instead of the $150 I spent on lifetime. It seems whichever way I go with Tivo, monthly vs. lifetime, I always end on the wrong side. Oh well.

  28. I take it back – the sold out of the one at the $84.99 price. Next best deal is still prime eligible, but $98 and sold by another party.

  29. Thank you Internet for saving me $85-135 by dragging my feet. I’ll put it towards an iPad Air 2 “TV”. ;)

  30. Just got this from the chat. Seems everyone is getting conflicting answers:

    Nicole: It actually appears that if you purchase a TiVo Mini elsewhere, within the the dates of 9/7 -9/9 you can call in and active the unit with FREE Lifetime Service.

    Nicole: It appears we no longer will have the monthly option.

  31. see, I still think the BEST hedge for those of us who pricematched at Best Buy is to activate today, then get the upgrade for $49 tomorrow. If the upgrade is only for EXISTING customers, if I call tomorrow I assume I cannot get a $49 PLS if I’m not activated.

    I am having a hard time buying that Tivo will let boxes purchases today but activated tomorrow to slide in free for PLS.

  32. I’d also like to know about people that paid for lifetime already. I bought a mini when i bought my roamio, one year ago. If i had gone month-month, then got lifetime now for $49, i’d actually have saved ~$30. Not a huge deal, but would be nice if they did some kind of credit.

  33. I’ve been speculating all along that they’re blowing out the mini stock in favor of rendering on connected devices such as the Roku, FireTV, XBox 360/One, PSx, etc. This is really starting to look like that’s the case.

  34. And that could support James B’s position that this move doesn’t suggest a fee-free third party experience. Wonder how a Suddenlink or RCN would feel about pushing their customers to a Roku or Fire TV tho, even if they could collect a recurring service fee. It’s getting interesting!

  35. I entered a support ticket early this morning about it. Here was their reply:

    While we do not have a promotional pricing for current Mini users to match this limited-time offer, we strongly encourage you to keep an eye on your email as we may have a similar promotion for existing users soon. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

  36. Just ordered a Mini at Frys for store pickup (10 minutes away) for $88 plus tax. I have until Thursday COB to pick it up. Depending on how things flush out, I may just cancel it and get the refund.

    If it costs another $49 to get lifetime, it may be worth it just to get me another Roku 3 refurb for ~$65 from Newegg, wait for the (hopefully) Tivo app, and get the better Plex support on Roku…. or even catch Fire TV on sale for a little more.

    If the Mini had official Plex support, it’d be an easier decision.

  37. Weaknees makes it clear:: *Additional Terms. Offer ends Jan. 6, 2015 or while supplies last. TiVo reserves the right to terminate or change this promotion at any time without notice. TiVo Mini ($99.99) and Product Lifetime Service ($50.00) bundle, regularly $249.98.

    Best Buy is the interesting situation. I’m not sure why TiVo didn’t just reduce Lifetime service and have BB keep the price @ $99.99. The only way it makes sense if BB went through and inventoried theirs TSNs to include Lifetime. I’m sitting this one out, but I think those that BB price matched with Amazon have the best odds of success.

    It will be interesting to see how many people will be complaining tomorrow and if its going to be similar to what happened during the July flash sale… One thing though, tomorrow is going to be fun!

  38. Of course, we’re assuming the Best Buy units will have Lifetime. However, if Tivo will have $49 PLS pricing for new users tomorrow, it would make more sense if BB pricing is an error.

  39. I can’t wait to see the comments in January 2015 when the TiVo Mini 2 is released! :) The one that is wireless, includes Roamio remote, and priced at $99.95.

  40. After Dave’s note that they may be dropping the fee+hardware price increase a week or two ago I went ahead and pulled the trigger on a mini at BB as i had rewards points and a gift card. so essentially I only paid $8 and change for my mini but I have not activated it yet…. So that throws another possible scenario into this – what about a pre “9/7” purchase that hasn’t been activated…. think it will be $50 for lifetime ?

  41. a little off topic on the mini but tivo purchase related

    is it safe to buy a code from a tivo buying service on ebay that has 100 percent positive feedback in order to get a Tivo Roamio with lifetime new for $449?

    Will tivo ever deactivate the box at a later date as a result of the ebay transaction? or do they not care


  42. James, given what we know thus far, based on the support chats, I don’t think TiVo will care.

    Scott, those codes are issued to TiVo resellers/distributors. Likewise, I don’t think TiVo cares once you’re activated. At some point, they may stop issuing them due to abuse. But I doubt folks who’ve taken advantage of them would ever be penalized.

  43. Dave, I’m thinking he might be able swing a free activation given the early situation tonight. I’m reading through the lines on the TCF post, but it appears they’re not pre-activated from BestBuy and he was able to get activated for free. Maybe there’s more to the story, but I’d rather try early on this one. Just like with the July flash, some early success, followed by massive failure once the CSRs figured out what was going on.

  44. That sounds like a sweet deal. I ordered one from Amazon this morning just in case. So once I receive it I’ll call TiVo up and see what they give me.

  45. Just off the phone and activated at no charge…
    Item 1 – was originally offered monthly or $150 lifetime
    Item 2. Mentioned I just purchased at best buy and was told activation was free
    Item 3. Rep located promo code and applied but needed a cc attached to be able to apply
    Item 4. I used same Amex that my Romio is on but he got an error and said the promo code gives them a problem when used w Amex (prob due to a zero dollar amounts being added )
    Item 5. I used my discover card and everything was activated and I received no email or text alerts from discover on charges so things must be good

    All in with my gift card and BB rewards points I only paid 8 and change for the Mini and now activated free :-)

  46. I wonder what the release date is.

    Also curious what ebay coupons will discount lifetime mini to now. It was 180 before the pricing change.

  47. Seeing as how I just extended my TiVo network with a Mini for $85, I think it was a good deal despite a new one coming out soon. :-D

  48. No change from the $150 charge to go lifetime at the website yet. I called TiVo to do it over the phone, but their customer service is on Pacific Time…

  49. Reports over at slickdeals are saying that they were able to add free lifetime online, even for a Mini a guy had sitting around a few months that wasn’t activated yet.

  50. @Big Boy Laroux,

    I was able to activate online this morning without having to call into customer support. Activated within 15 mins.

  51. I’m on the phone with TiVo Customer service. They brought up my support chat logs from yesterday, and aren’t sure about whether they can offer me lifetime for $49.99. She’s talking to a manager now.

  52. STILL ON THE PHONE. She thinks I’m still under “contract” for my TiVo Minis purchased in May 2013. I’m not sure there was ever a contract on the Minis…

  53. Ok… Three TiVo Minis (two of which were no longer under contract) upgraded to lifetime service for $49.99 each.

    I also paid a $24 ETF on the one under contract so I don’t have to pay $24 between now and January and wait to get it on lifetime service.

  54. I just got my TiVo Mini hooked up with lifetime. Had to call in per the chat agent (can’t do it online yet). Mine was under contract, but for 37 days, so they looked the other way and hooked me up with the $50 upgrade. Worst case, as per above comments I just would have added the $25 ETF fee, still a good deal.

    Just eBayed another Mini for the kids room, I assume I’ll have no problem getting that one at $50 as well.

  55. I saw the new pricing Sept 9 2014 Tivo mini with lifetime for 149.00 and my stomach sank. Bought a tivo mini at Best Buy 88.00 and activated Lifetime with Tivo 149.99 The mini was over 2 weeks ago so Best Buy would not accept return so I can save some money. . I called tivo and they helped me they will do something for you too Just explain your situation. . TIVO HAS THE BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE.

  56. I contacted TiVo today and it does appear to be a very good deal if you can still find a TiVo Mini for the old price. I am going to purchase one at Frys in hopes that I am able to take advantage of this offer.

    Nicole: Hi, my name is Nicole. Are you an existing customer?
    TiVo Customer: Yes I am.
    TiVo Customer: I want to find out how TiVo Mini service works now
    TiVo Customer: Is it included with TiVo Mini purchased now or added on seperately for a fee?
    Nicole: I am happy to help. Yes the fee is now $149.99 for the hardware and service.
    TiVo Customer: If I buy it somewhere else like Best Buy, Amazon or Frys for less than $149, does it still come with service?
    Nicole: It should still come with service, yes.
    TiVo Customer: When I call to activate, do they just add it to my account, no additional cost is associated then?
    Nicole: Yes, that should be the case!

  57. Mine finally got put through as “a one time only deal”

    Background chatter from the call center was ALL about Mini PLS. Looks like there’s a lot of annoyed customers out there.

  58. FYI
    I just called TiVo they added lifetime service to my mini for $50.

    So now I have a Stream and a Mini (no charge for either) and a TiVo Premiere XL4 (Retention-$6.95 monthly offer).

    That seems like a pretty good deal :)

  59. So I’m a little confused about all of this.

    What happens if I buy a used Tivo Mini on ebay? Can I add it to my account and it will just work without a monthly fee?

    What is the $50 one time fee you guys are mentioning? Now that there’s no monthly fee, and you can get these things on ebay for about $60, I might pick one up. But I don’t want to get stuck paying more than I’m prepared for.

  60. Try using chat to get my mini on the lifetime plan for $50. They couldnt help. But called phone support and they were incredible helpful and friendly and switched the plan right away.

  61. With the current Mini Model: TCDA92000 now on sale @ $149 I wonder if the new Mini Model: TCDA93000 will be priced @ $249 with a monthly option?

    Still for those getting a Mini @ $89 it’s a no brainer. Makes a nice Christmas stocking stuffer.

  62. Just got my 3 Amazon Tivo Minis in and they were activated online with no problem.

    Anyone know when Tivo’s DVR patent expires? I think it is 2015 and wonder how quickly competitors will start popping up.

  63. My Amazon unit arrived today and also activated fine online (though I haven’t connected it to service yet). TiVo.com, however, was slow as molasses for some reason.

  64. I also activated a Mini I got from Amazon today. It shows up as having Lifetime service after having it activated.
    It was a great deal for only $90 after taxes. Considering I paid $250 each, for two launch Minis with Lifetime service a year and half ago.

  65. If you have a Roamio as a host for the mini then can you play recordings that are saved on an old tivo premiere dvr (2 turner) on the mini? I understand that the 2 turner premiere won’t function to watch live tv on the mini or serve as the host but can I access its recordings on mini if I have a Roamio host????

  66. My Fry’s $88 Mini activated online with no fees. But interestingly, the Minis have disappeared from Fry’s website this morning. Right when I was about to suggest to friends and family to get one before they went to $150.

  67. I contacted TiVo customer service via chat. No luck getting my existing two minis switched over to PLS at a discount.

    The account portal shows $149.99 as my own future service option. I guess PLS really isn’t discounted for existing customers.

  68. They did it for me, even though mine said the same. You have to be outside of any 1-year contract you made. Call them up if you are.

  69. Lawson, I agree. In my case, I wasn’t outside of a one year contract, but I was 37 days into one. They said I should have been within 30 days, but they did it for me as a “one time favor”. I guess I lucked out, although I should have jumped on those cheap Amazon mini’s to equip the rest of the house.

  70. Dave,

    Just wanted to come back and say thanks. Your info on the Tivo Mini pricing change helped me save quite a bit of money. Keep up the good work!

  71. Thanks for the information. I just called and they said I would have needed to activate the mini no later than 8/9. I missed by 10 days! Do you know if I could buy used minis without a lifetime service and then activate them on my account and lifetime service would be included?

  72. I just got my mini and spoke to a rep that supposedly activated it. I get nothing but a black screen at the moment. It runs through initial setup, but goes black and does nothing. Maybe needs more time? It seems to recognize the remote commands.

    This was purchased a month or so ago on the cusp of the announcement, it just took Amazon a while to fulfill the order. They knew it came from Amazon after I read the number off the device.

  73. Never mind, seems to be working now. It seemed to lose connection with the tv, thus the black screen. I unplugged the hdmi and reseated it and the picture came back and let me complete setup.

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