Categories: TiVo

TiVo Series 1 “Lifetime” Service Ceases September 29th

The venerable TiVo Series 1 that started it all, way back in 1999, heads off into the sunset come September 29th. And, apparently, about 3500 of you still rock the single tuner, standard def DVR-pioneering anvil. While those owners will retain access to their recordings, TiVo’s presumably decided ongoing support is too expensive. As such, they haven’t invested in migrating this generation to Rovi guide data next month and are, instead, pulling the plug.

Certain TiVo products require a TiVo service subscription, and we currently offer three service plan options: monthly, annual, and an All-In Plan. (In prior versions of this user agreement, the All-In Plan was referred to as Product Lifetime service.)

With an All-In Plan subscription, (a) you pay just once (rather than monthly, annually, or in some other frequency) for your TiVo service subscription, (b) your subscription lasts for the lifetime of your TiVo device (not your lifetime), and (c) you cannot transfer your subscription to another TiVo device (except in cases of warranty repair or replacement under applicable warranty terms).

TiVo seemingly violates their own Terms of Service in cutting “Lifetime Service” … but they do legal as well as they do DVR, if not better, and most of us were moved into a binding arbitration clause to head off the requisite calls for a class action lawsuit. With such a small number of active owners remaining and a $75 gift card to sweeten the deal, I assume TiVo is on solid footing and suspect many will be satisfied. Even better, for some, Product Lifetime Service purchased prior to February 2000 can be transferred to another unit. If nothing else and for comparison, TiVo handily beat the competing Replay TV service and American TiVo owners have long-outlasted their British counterparts. And, really, these units have had a heck of a run. Are there any other bleeding edge electronics that have lasted as long? From the same era, my prized possession was a Palm V. Which lost its usefulness (and support) years ago (with company assets changing hands multiple times).

So Series 1 owners will effectively be left with a digital VCR. Back in the day, there were projects to feed 3rd party guide data into less secure, older TiVo platforms. But with such a small number of users running obsolete hardware, I can’t imagine we’d see a resurgence.

UPDATE: TiVo admits it wasn’t cost-effective to retrofit the Series 1 for Rovi guide data, but will work with folks dissatisfied with the $75 buyout (or those excluded entirely?) and have already sweetened the deal. From CMO Ira Bahr:

This was not strictly an engineering decision but rather a resource allocation decision. As Series 1 active boxes made up less than .5% of our active boxes in the field, it was cost prohibitive on a per box basis to try to engineer a solution. We also don’t think we could have gotten it done in time.

[…]

Our offer is $75 off of a 500 GB TiVo BOLT or $100 off 1000 GB when you subscribe to a new service plan. Importantly, this is IN ADDITION to the $75 prepaid card, meaning that the net prices are $50 and $125 respectively. If you’re not getting an outcome you like, please do phone our S1 hotline at 1-877-407-1983, and tell us your situation. We’ve worked hard to assure that we have offers to accomodate all requirements.

View Comments

  • Definitely a good run for one of the most innovative products of all time. That said, the best remedy would be to transition any one of those users to a Product Lifetime Service on a new TiVo. There's almost zero incremental cost to TiVO with this approach assuming they are at least close to break even on the underlying hardware cost.

  • I disagree, no way I would transfer the lifetime service for the S1 users. It sets a precedent that will be impossible to maintain years in the future.

    Products have an effective EOL - A Series one unit passed that years ago.

    If you go ebay - $75 for a lifetime S1 unit is likely more than market value. TiVo is offering market value for these units, that is a pretty good offer IMHO

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Dave Zatz