The New TiVonomics

Along with the introduction of the TiVo Bolt comes a slew of pricing and policy changes. They’re probably good for TiVo, Inc. But the adjustments are largely unfavorable for TiVo customers (and potential customers).


The devaluation of Lifetime service is the most painful for longtime TiVo fans. Under the “All-In” rebrand, the fee has been raised to $600… without the traditional $100 off for existing customers and without it being offered at time of purchase. Which means you could be rolling the dice. Who knows what the scenario will be a year from now when a year of bundled Bolt and Roamio Pro service expires. Also impacting existing customers is the end of multi-service discount (MSD), in which folks get a few dollar break for each additional DVR on a monthly plan. Fortunately, those who currently possess discounts will retain them… as long as they make no adjustments to their account.

But here’s where it gets weird. And this is going to mess up uninformed people who pick up used TiVos on ebay, craigslist, and the like. Series 1, Series 2, and Series 3/HD TiVo units without Lifetime service will no longer be activated. Based on the support note, it also seems like folks with effected hardware on an annual plan could end up with a brick when their term expires. Fun times. Of course, with MPEG4 killing a number of TiVos in Comcast’s footprint and the loss of Amazon and YouTube apps, those S3/HD models are less compelling these days. But, as they’re continuing to support Lifetimes units (for now?), why not also keep the lights on for units in the basement someone may want to reactivate?

36 thoughts on “The New TiVonomics”

  1. I pray they don’t discontinue my $10 per month OTA only fee. Regarding the Bolt, unless they add HBO Go and Showtime Anytime I’ll stick with my Roamio and Roku combination.

  2. With Lifetime… I mean All In costing so much, they definitely seem to have done that specifically to push people to the yearly or monthly plans. So they can get the recurring fees.

  3. As a longtime user of TiVo, they are becoming less compelling and less relevant through their actions. It’s truly unfortunate.

  4. @Michael
    I didn’t think about that. I’m still on a $6.95 a month plan on my 2013 Roamio Basic. I hope they don’t eliminate that too. If they do I will need to dump it and just use the lifetime Refurb Roamio Basic I picked up during the recent sale. But I would prefer to keep that low $6.95 a month plan since the cost is so minimal. Of course if they had a $300 deal with Lifetime two years ago, I would have dumped that $6.95 plan back then.

    It used to be on an OLED Series 3, and then it got transferred to a Premiere. And then in 2013 they transferred it to the Roamio Basic and let me put lifetime on the Premiere for only $99. Which I still need to do something with.

  5. Makes be glad I dumped my tivo and went all in with Mythtv with hdhomerun prime and non primes in the mix. $20 a year for guide data. Mythtv “Channel” in Plex gives me access to recordings on all my iOS devices. Also keeping my eye open on the Silicon Dust DVR as Mythtv stagnates, but still fills most of my needs with a Roku on input 2. I had Tivo 1, 2, DIrect and a Series 3 over the years. all lifetimed. The Bolt looked tempting as a one box solution but not with all the additional fees.

  6. I would guess the $99 Lifetime deal I got on a Premiere that I paid monthly for 3 years also went away.

  7. Wow, just wow. I mean it was hard enough before to talk someone into spending ~$200+ on a box and either $12 a month or $400 for lifetime. Much like TiVo, I am done trying to get people to buy TiVos. I would rather take my boy scout door to door trying to sell $5 dollars worth of popcorn for $30 than suggest participating in this bullshit.

  8. I am sticking with my Roamio but as long as someone can rent from the cable company and not pay the cost of the box, it is a tough sell to get someone to shell out the extra $300 for the right (in most cases) to loose “OnDemand”. If this was Apple people would be lined up around the block at these pricing levels but that is a different story.

  9. Looks like it was a good move for me to lifetime the Roamio Plus and Pro. I avoided paying a higher price for aN inferior product, IMO.

  10. I think TiVo is angry at me for continuing to use my Lifetime Serviced Series2 units. I have four of them and continue to use them even with a Premiere and Roamio on the main TVs.

    The Series2s are still in use primarily BECAUSE the Lifetime Service was so expensive. It made me skip over the Series3 units entirely. I didn’t want to lose the investment in service to upgrade the hardware.

  11. I’m so glad that I took advantage of the deal that TiVo was offering to long-time customers in August (lifetime for $100 with the purchase of a Romio). Of course had it not been for Comcast’s upcoming switch to MPEG4 I wouldn’t have had to replace my HDXL at all…

  12. “I mean it was hard enough before to talk someone into spending ~$200+ on a box and either $12 a month or $400 for lifetime. Much like TiVo, I am done trying to get people to buy TiVos.”

    I actually have had excellent results in converting folks IRL to TiVo. Succeeded with a handful, with an excellent rate of success per attempt. My only trick was to do it while they were over socially, let them want to play with it first, and then do a relatively brief spiel. The dingus basically sold itself. Worked well with my S3 and even better with my S5.

    But like you, I’m done. And it’s not even the pricing! I was done 48 hours ago when the horribly misguided S6 specs and unbaked nature were made clear. I wouldn’t push the S6 on my worst enemy. The new pricing scheme is just icing on the cake…

    (Frankly, I’ve never comprehended the ‘pre-this-week’ cost concern for folks who actually understand basic economics. The dingus paid for itself in a reasonable period of time, you had a far superior product, and over time you saved money. Of course, most folks don’t understand basic economics – see how subsidized smart phones bamboozled most folks as to what they were actually paying – but that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.)

  13. Somehow the idea of “Good news for TiVo, but bad news for its customers” seems pretty hard to square over the long run. The company is out of touch with its customers and has simply lost its way. Their pricing strategy is naive and arrogant. Alienating loyal customers is not the path to success. The stock is trading at 3 year lows for a reason. Even the crown jewel – its once fabulous UX/UI has been allowed to deteriorate. There are features in the Bolt that are nice, and would have paid a reasonable fee to upgrade. Despite having owned much of their hardware since launch – its finally time to recognize their culture of failure, and sadly move to another platform. Am looking for alternatives. XBMC ?

  14. Jodd, that’s kinda how I presented it on Twitter.

    Given what they did with Mini and these months of great deals, I’m pretty shocked at the pricing — I’d assumed they were going to be more aggressive (favorable). Will be interesting to see if these prices stick throughout the holiday season and, if so, what the corresponding quarterly report looks like. Perhaps they’ll still get a lower priced “Aereo Edition” out the door this year?

  15. While I agree with your general sentiment, Jodd, to bend over backwards for fairness / accuracy:

    “The stock is trading at 3 year lows for a reason.”

    Well, this week’s announcements are pretty obviously not that reason. The coming end of the patent troll gravy train is likely the real reason.

    “Even the crown jewel – its once fabulous UX/UI has been allowed to deteriorate.”

    With the lone exception of the inexplicable disappearance of the Glo remote, I strongly disagree with you here. The UX has been getting better over time, (with a slight regression on the laggy/buggy S4 until they shifted the software platform.) I thought the S5 UX was a notable improvement over the S3 UX, and that was before OnePass, which I consider a Big F*cking Deal; perhaps the biggest UX deal to happen to DVR’s since their invention.

  16. Agree the Bolt announcement can’t be the reason for the stock’s historical under-performance, They have years to adjust to end of royalties, that’s old news too. Its the cumulative effect of years of bad decisions negatively impacting sales and margins.

    As far as the UX, should have been more specific, its all the non-core functionality, Ever try to use Web Video Hotlist, Or wonder why you cant ff / rew in Netflx, Or how long the Opera store apps take to load, or why Spotify crashes often? Its great they have allowed outside integration and apps – but many dont work well, and the UI is vastly different from one to the next. If the hardware speed doesn’t support a clean UX, then they should not allow it to run. TiVo needs to do a lot more to create standards and proper functioning.

  17. TiVo has jumped around with different pricing models so many times over the years it makes your head spin. I think this is garbage, and simply for that reason, I suspect it won’t last very long.

    I will stick with my current setup for now and see what happens in a year or so.

  18. I can’t conscientiously recommend TiVo to anyone any more. The value proposition is abysmal. Just a few weeks ago, someone was asking me about my TiVo, and I tried to explain it, but they had a very hard time understanding what it does/doesn’t do and what it costs and why. Now I should just tell them to forget it. I would feel terrible if it was my fault they got suckered into this.

    These prices will never fly. Either they will be changing again soon, or TiVo will be going out of business. The need for a DVR at all will be rapidly declining as more and more television shifts to streaming on-demand. I will be using my current lifetime TiVo until it dies, and then I am done.

  19. I’m sure there will be bundled lifetime deals in the future as usual, but I’m kind of okay with the new pricing structure. I’m primarily interested in upgrading if beefier hardware allows for a better Plex experience than the current 720p/4mbps app.

    With the way the TV and app landscape is changing so rapidly, I figure that after the included year of service, I might re-up for maybe another year. By then I anticipate a cable DVR will be a lot less important for me, so not going “All-In” might actually end up saving me money.

  20. Quite a shift, maybe this is to encourage Bolt purchases in the short term.. honestly, I think it’s a buy at this point (the stock only) since it looks like they are trying to pretty up the income statement and pro-forma for a sale.

    disclaimer: I am not a financial planner but I play one on tv.

  21. I have to agree with Chucky’s analysis of TiVo’s improved UI. I switched to MPC for a few years but the recent Roamio/Lifetime deal tempted me back to the TiVo fold. I’ve been pretty impressed with the UI especially with OnePass (although I know it has some quirks).. However, since I just got Roamio, I won’t be (ahem) Bolt-ing any time soon.

  22. Some reports on the forum indicate that the 10-year loyalty deal is now a 5-year loyalty deal and $50 cheaper at $450. (!) I wonder if this is what CEO Tom Rogers meant about taking a hit in relation to new hardware — unloading the older, possibly better stuff at a big discount? In any event, anyone looking to buy a Roamio of any flavor or maybe add lifetime to an existing Roamio or Premiere should probably call in quick.

  23. “In any event, anyone looking to buy a Roamio of any flavor or maybe add lifetime to an existing Roamio or Premiere should probably call in quick.”

    Huh. Good to know, and advice sought: know the 5(!) year loyalty price for lifetiming S5? Or know if lifetiming is really part of what’s on offer? Or do I just call in on Monday? Or do just do I just observe the appropriate forum?

    (Always decided to stay on contract against my own interests on general principle, but given events…)

  24. Two nuggets that possibly provide more (favorable) context… From the TiVo CMO’s Q&A it seems the changes to PLS and MSD sort of virtually offset things like the $150 Mini (with no fees) and the relatively new Continual Care Warranty (for units not Lifetimed).

    Chucky, call TiVo and let us know what you find out. Why am I the only one doing any work around here? ;)

  25. We bought a Roamio Pro last year. I’ve been pretty happy with it, but realized that we really don’t much need it anymore. Virtually everything we want we purchase and stream. We have a Roamio and an aging Premiere. If something happens to either, I’m going to have a hard time justifying a replacement.

  26. This just proves the point that I made in a previous thread – Tivo does not care about their existing customers.

  27. Continual Care also applies to the yearly subscriptions too. Not just the monthly. The yearly costs less per year at $149.99 while the monthly is $14.99 a month.($179.88 for a year)

  28. aaronwt – the CC doesn’t apply to Lifetime though.

    Chucky – I also got a friend to get a TiVo. Nightmare. Last weekend, he cancelled DTV, signed up for FiOS, got a Roamio. Well, have you seen the “One Moment” problem on setting up new boxes? That’s what he got this week on setup. Almost swapped out the box, but on the Community forums he found the answer: you need to get service now before you can set up the box. Instead of elegantly telling you that, TiVo just spins you into an error.

    So this morning, he decides to finish up the project. But guess what? Now PLS for him is $600 instead of $500.

    He’s pissed. At TiVo, and kinda at me. Not really at me. But a little.

    He’s thinking he’ll return the Roamio and try streaming only now that he has a super-fast FiOS pipe. I’m encouraging him to do that. I don’t want to be on the hook for any more TiVo surprises.

    And he’s not the worst off. What if I bought a Roamio last week expecting my PLS to be $400? Then I get it and it’s $600? Not cool TiVo. Forget about me trying to convert the masses anymore.

    Fine. So

  29. Has anyone had any luck with obtaining 10 year or 5 year loyalty PLS subscriptions on new or existing TiVos since the new pricing went into effect? If so, can you be specific on the deal you received and the timeframe in which you obtained it?


  30. I forwarded you my promo email – one of the listed deals supposedly requires a code. You can use mine if it’s still valid.

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