Journalists covering TiVo on Friday received an e-mail from the company with the subject line: "TiVo Media Accommodation Program." Members of the press have asked whether TiVo offered discounts to media, the message said, adding that courtesy of TiVo and electronics maker Humax, media people and their families could get a $200 rebate on an 80-hour Humax DVR. The promotion ends April 30.
The offer roiled some in the media. Phil Swann at TVpredictions wrote a story asking if TiVo was trying to buy off the media. TiVo's response was, essentially, "No, now stop trying to make something out of nothing."
If you break down the deal, it really wasn't much for TiVo to offer or for the media to accept.
TiVo makes most of its money from subscriptions to its programming guide--about $13 per month or $299 for access to the service until the hardware dies. These weren't part of the promotion, and the fees often are the part of purchase that turns would-be customers away.
The deal was basically $100 off the 80-hour recorder. The box lists for $299, but TiVo also offers a recurring $100 rebate on systems to entice subscribers.
A nice gesture, but not exactly the sweetheart deal it originally seemed.
However, as part of TiVo's response to Swann, the company noted that the promotion was not limited to media. Nowhere on the TiVo Web page detailing the offer does it say it's specifically for the press.
So let's add it up: It's not really as good a deal as it was made out to be, and it's not really for the press.