TiVo Tempts Cord Cutters With Free DVR

TiVo’s greatest challenge has always been its pricing structure. And, to reduce the barrier to entry, they’re significantly subsidizing DVR hardware by floating a $0-down promotion.

While this isn’t the first time they’ve gone down this path, this particular incarnation is fairly compelling: $15/mo, with two-year commitment, get you both the new TiVo Bolt OTA and service. Further, by going monthly, you’re entitled to their ongoing continual care warranty – if the box goes belly up any time after 90 days, which subscribed, it’s a flat $50 for a replacement.

Some quick math —

TiVo Bolt OTA promo
$15 * 24 months = $360

TiVo Bolt OTA rack rate
$250 hardware + ($7/mo * 24 months) = $418

Other solutions do run less and there has been an even more compelling recent TiVo deal, but if you’ve been holding out for a 1TB TiVo DVR with voice control remote, this is pretty darn good.

20 thoughts on “TiVo Tempts Cord Cutters With Free DVR”

  1. After the 2 year commit, if you still want to use your TiVo for scheduling and viewing you will still need to pay the $15/month… forever.
    You are better off (flexibility, pricing, no commit) buying a Raspberry Pi, a hard drive and open-source software – about $110 — 1/3 price of TiVo or less.

    Now days, TiVo has NO value proposition. No even bragging rights like there used to be 20 years ago. What an old dog! The Bolt, btw, is also not a good out-of-box experience in setting up

  2. For around the same 2 year price up front you can get a TIVo with a lifetime subscription. As far as the warranty, most credit cards double the warranty and you can buy a low cost one from square trade if you want that last for years. However the electronics in the unit rarely go bad and with some ingenuity and a browser search an owner can self replace the hard drive with an even larger one quite inexpensively. That said, Tivo’s internet connection can be challenging at times and their tech support is abysmal. There voice remote is next to useless when compared with the standard remote. Save your money and get an Echo Dot for less than the remote. It offers far more capability. That said given my experience with Tivo I would avoid them like the plague and get one of their competitors for less money and more flexibility. All Tivo really is, is a programmable tuner with a hard drive. You can find other such devices by doing a browser search for OTA DVR Recorder.

  3. Likely not accurate, mikey. The current monthly rate for Bolt OTA is $6.99. Fine print indicates that after two years you’d move to whatever the current rate it is.

  4. I’d buy a Roamio OTA, still available somewhere. Subscription included for the life of hardware

  5. Mikey, I stand corrected. Either I misread or the description has changed, but it says you’ll continue on at your existing rate. Assuming the current OTA plan sticks around, you’d just cancel the subscription after 24 months and re-up at the lower rate should you care to continue.

    Julio, a Lifetimed Roamio OTA at a good price is also compelling. However, you miss out on a few things like streaming to mobile devices (and soon, Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV) and the voice remote – which I think is actually good, unlike GymW. Also the Bolt is much snappier, for whatever that’s worth. Could be a consideration for some.

  6. I have Hulu which gives me all the recorded shows that my wife and I watch, also have Amazon but rarely view it.

  7. This isn’t a deal, it’s just a terrible layaway program where you end up paying a lot more in the end.

  8. Lawrence, if Hulu worked a deal with a few other networks (like CBS), it could work in our household. Unfortunately, they’re missing a good amount of stuff. :/

    In response to a few, yes there are cheaper ways to do this (as I indicated in the article), but none as user friendly as TiVo. Torrents, of course, are theft – some are OK with that, others aren’t and it requires a certain amount of technical accumen. If price is a driving factor for OTA DVR, Recast is probably the best solution – assuming you own Fire TV hardware and are OK with an early, incomplete product. In the pricing middle are the more capable Tablo and HDHomeRun powered by Plex or Channels.

  9. Raspberry Pi ??? Not even close. Apparently the opininator has no clue what TiVo does. Can you record 4 Ota broadcasts at the same time while watching a previous recordind and skipping all comercial breaks? Or stream youtube tubi amazon prime hulu netflix a d on and more on.

  10. Dave, I’m reading over at TCF that when TiVo offered similar deals with the Roamio OTA in the past, the unit’s serial number was locked in TiVo’s systems to only ever allow monthly service at $15/mo. After the initial 2 year commitment was up, you could quit service on the box but the only option ever offered to resume it was at the same $15 monthly rate, never the regular, lower monthly rate that one would pay using a TiVo purchased at the regular retail price. Not sure if that will be the case with this 72-hour Bolt OTA deal or not.

    As a long-time Hulu ad-free subscriber, I find that it largely replaces the need for an OTA DVR (while also delivering a bunch of content that’s not on any OTA station). And since recent shows from PBS and The CW can be streamed for free from their apps, so that just leaves CBS, as you point out. There’s virtually nothing on CBS that I care about but, for those who do, there’s CBS All Access (or streaming CBS stuff for free through a Plex Channels plug-in). There are certainly arguments in favor of going either way, OTA DVR vs. a combo of streaming sources, but the ease and ubiquity of streaming these days is definitely one of the challenges that the Bolt OTA faces.

  11. I would honestly be concerned whether TiVo will still be around in 2 years. Depends on whether Rovi wins their lawsuit against Comcast, which is pretty much their lifeline at this point. If they do lose, my feeling is Rovio will sell the TiVo IP/patent licensing to someone very much like Comcast (or Spectrum, perhaps), and the TiVo devices and services will be left to rot because nobody wants to buy them.

  12. I’m doing OTA TV and don’t pay for hulu, sling or the others. I do pay for Netflix and record whatever network TV gives me over the air. The major networks come in clear over the air and I can record all the Sunday NFL games. The free version of YouTube is awesome and you can do pay per view movies from Vudu so my Roamio has been great. I’ve been paying $15 a month for my roamio and this is a no brainer for me to upgrade to the newer version. Tivo has always worked flawlessly out of the box so I stick with it. They need to add 50 to 100 apps (or borrow from Roku or Android TV) or they probably will be out of business in two years though.

  13. This is an awful deal when compared with the deal they had in February. I got a refurb Bolt with lifetime for $280 that works with either OTA or cable. I guess the $50 replacement option is better than nothing, but my refurb Roamio has been going strong for more than 2 years with zero issues so I’m not terribly worried about it.

  14. Except the February deal vanished pretty quickly, and it wouldn’t surprise me if those lifetime units were on Ebay nearly as quickly. I’m a pretty regular reader here, and I still missed it. As it is, I’m paying $12.95 a month for my old HD box, so, essentially, I’m paying $3 for an upgrade, and ordered last night; it should arrive Thursday.
    I sure don’t see the $50 replacement fee as a factor. My S1 (with the Hinsdale upgrade) and HD are both in great shape, though admittedly I plugged in the S1 once since the HD went into service about a decade ago.
    That said, over the weekend when Tablo opened up orders again, I got the Quad as well. So one of the free trial periods will probably end early.

  15. Perhaps you’ve unsubscribed, but I let TiVo send me advertising emails for just this reason. I ordered within an hour of receiving the email announcing that the deal was live because I knew it would sell out quickly.

  16. Of course I unsubscribed. Apparently it would have taken nearly two decades to get one advertising email I would have acted upon.

  17. It’s been delivered, waiting for me when I get back. I gather that the interface on the Bolts isn’t exactly beloved even by the Tivo faithful, and considering there’s some 13 years of accumulated history between the HD and the Bolt, if any of you regulars want me to record my reactions so you can chuckle as I bellow things like “HEY, WHERE’S ALL MAH STORIES GO?!” and “THAT GUIDE THERE DON’T SHOW ME ENOUGH,” maybe we can work something out. :)

    (I actually deeply love the traditional two-panel guide and despise every kind of grid, so that second one might actually happen…)

  18. Received my Bolt OTA Vox Thursday. Set up was easy. Went to tivo.online and transferred about a third of my saved shows to the bolt. Mostly was concerned about a few saved concerts. A couple shows I transferred did the glitch where it freezes after 10 or 20 minutes after transfer but they weren’t my concerts just tv show recordings so I’ll keep the old roamio active until everybody watches their recent shows.

    I upgraded my Roamio to Hydra last year and like it just fine so the Bolt interface is fine by me

    Apps are much quicker to load than the Roamio. I’ll cancel the $15 Roamio subscription in a couple weeks since I only need the one machine. I like the Tivo platform and the Roamio has been flawless for 4 years. I bought the Roamio Pro but it’s been on antenna the whole time.

    In two years I’ll know if Tivo has added more apps like my Roku has or I’ll try a Recast or HD Homerun or whatever the market has then.

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