March 8, 2006 4:20 PM PST

TiVo's lifetime service plan dies

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TiVo is phasing out its popular lifetime service plan and implementing a series of flexible pricing options that include the company's hardware, the DVR maker announced on Wednesday.

For some time, customers of the leading digital video recorder technology and service provider have been able to pay a $299 flat fee for lifetime TiVo service. But the Alviso, Calif., company said it plans to eliminate that option as of next week.

"Clearly, it's something that's had some popularity with our subscriber base," said Todd Juenger, TiVo's vice president of strategic planning.

"We understand it's a great value, but in balancing trying to provide customers with great value and our own business interests, we think it was too far in favor of good value to make sense for us financially," Juenger said.

TiVo customers who already have the lifetime plan will not be affected, according to the company.

Now, TiVo said it hopes to keep attracting new customers by offering several service packages that include its 80-hour Series2 DVR boxes in the price and that therefore require no up-front hardware investment.

Customers signing a one-year plan will pay $19.95 a month for TiVo service and a box, while a two-year commitment lowers the price to $18.95 a month, and a three-year agreement to $16.95 a month.

The company's decision to include its equipment as part of service plans is not a surprise. Last month, CEO Tom Rodgers hinted that the company was leaning that way.

In a statement Wednesday, Rodgers said, "Over the past several months, we have done extensive research on our pricing strategy and distribution model with a focus on finding the simplest and most efficient way to increase sales and drive penetration of the TiVo service."

Last week, TiVo announced KidZone, a service that enables parents to search for programming appropriate for their children and separate those shows from content recorded for adults.

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26 comments

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Don't forget pre-paid options
It isn't just monthly, you can pre-pay too.
* The price for a TiVo box and a one-year service commitment is $19.95 a month or $224 prepaid
* The price for a TiVo box and a two-year service commitment is $18.95 a month or $369 prepaid
* The price for a TiVo box and a three-year service commitment is $16.95 a month or $469 prepaid

Also, these plans are only for units purchased directly from TiVo. New plans are expected for units purchased at retail, but those details have not been released at this time.

As for lifetime being 'popular', I recall from previous TiVo conference calls that fewer than 20% of TiVo subscribers opted for the lifetime plan. So it wasn't all that popular. I used it on all 5 units I've owned, three of which I've resold, and I always encouraged people to use it - but most people just didn't want to pay up front.
Posted by megazone (138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No lifetime service plan = no more Tivo purchases
I've been a hugh Tivo fan for years, but I've always purchased
the lifetime service plan. It's was the only way to go
considering they've been constantly raising their monthly rates.

Oh well, I've also got an Elgato eyeTV hooked to my Mac Mini
and it does everything the Tivo does (with the exception of a
Season Pass) and it lets me edit and export my content to iPod,
DVD, etc..

This announce means my current Tivo is my last Tivo.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exception
"With the exception of Season Pass."
Quite a big exception.
Posted by chrisx1 (201 comments )
Link Flag
More reason to build a htpc.
BeyondTV has worked like a charm for me!
Posted by mados123 (121 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Death of TIVO
Well that's the end of TIVO I give it 1 more year Tops!

I love my Tivo, I wanted a 2nd one but They would not give me a price cut on the lifetime service, and I was not going to pay another 300$, so I never got a 2nd..

And Now I never will buy another one, I am not paying another monthly fee NO WAY!

I tried to get friends to get a Tivo as well and one friend was going to get it but they told him they no longer offered the life time service so he told em where they could stick it.

Yes the Tivo is dead! it wa snice while it lasted.

PS are the CEO of Tivo and SONY related?
They must be they both seem to have the same bad judgment.

migraine@knology.net
Posted by Migraine (95 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Buy an LG LRM-519!
It will do most of what TiVo does, the UI is easier, and it will burn DVDs...No fees of any kind beyond purchase price!
Posted by marhab (2 comments )
Link Flag
Death of TIVO
Well that's the end of TIVO I give it 1 more year Tops!

I love my Tivo, I wanted a 2nd one but They would not give me a price cut on the lifetime service, and I was not going to pay another 300$, so I never got a 2nd..

And Now I never will buy another one, I am not paying another monthly fee NO WAY!

I tried to get friends to get a Tivo as well and one friend was going to get it but they told him they no longer offered the life time service so he told em where they could stick it.

Yes the Tivo is dead! it wa snice while it lasted.

PS are the CEO of Tivo and SONY related?
They must be they both seem to have the same bad judgment.

migraine@knology.net
Posted by Migraine (95 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't think it will affect too many people
I don't think it will affect too many people. We have 2 Tivo's and I've never been interested in the lifetime fee. If one of the Tivo's dies tomorrow I'm out the money. I pay the regular fee for one and half-price for the other one. I don't have a problem with their fees.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: lifetime
I paid for the lifetime the first day that I got my tivo. I expected it to last me at least 3 years. It has done that. After the 3 months warrenty, a friend helped me out and replaced the default drives with 2 130 gb drives. So I have over 300 hrs of tivo, which tivo keeps pretty full <smile>.

It's a shame that they are taking an action that says either "we don't need hard core fans" or "we don't expect people to depend on us over the long term".
Posted by lwvirden (83 comments )
Link Flag
Don't think it will affect too many people
I don't think it will affect too many people. We have 2 Tivo's and I've never been interested in the lifetime fee. If one of the Tivo's dies tomorrow I'm out the money. I pay the regular fee for one and half-price for the other one. I don't have a problem with their fees.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Economics... Lifetime membership is SOOO Key
Lifetime membership is SOOO key. The absolute CHEAPEST plan now available from Tivo is $17/month. And that's with a 3 year commitment. $17*12*3 = $612.

Or lifetime = $299 (pays for itself in 17 months).

The argument about if the machine breaks then your out the $299 is false... if you are within the 1 year warranty, then you get a free replacement. If outside of warranty then you pay $149 for a replacement Tivo. And the lifetime membership is still good.

My Tivo just died. They are sending me a new one. I was preparing to buy a second Tivo for the bedroom... but without the lifetime membership, then I don't think that it is worth it.

Question... If you were to buy a second Tivo and elected to NOT purchase the plan... could you still leverage the shows recorded from the first Tivo? That might actually make it worth it.
Posted by dawool (2 comments )
Link Flag
TiVo and Humax DVR Problems
If TiVo will be reselling the Humax DVR, watch out. There are major problems with the DVR and support from both Humax and TiVo for remote control failures. I was able to get my brand new Humax DVR-80 replaced with a refurbished unit a few months ago and it worked but many are on their 3rd, 4th, 5th unit with continuing failures. Feel free to visit forums.tivo.com to witness this long-term, ongoing battle.

As others have said here, TiVo's days are numbered. I'm glad I didn't get the $300 lifetime subscription (which they're going to discontinue).
Posted by g_george (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
failed humax DVR's
In less than a years time, I had 2 failed Humax products...never again...not to mention there customer support is not at all helpful !
Posted by 8243 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Wow - this is terrible
Let's see. the 80 hr box is listed as $220 today, and a non-lifetime subscription is $13. So, for a 3 year subscription, the cost today would be 13*36 = 468+220 = 680 . Or, today, one could purchase the lifetime plan with the 80 hr for 300+220 = 520.

Starting next week, there is no lifetime, and the 3 year plan costs 17*36 = 612. So there's about a 60 dollar savings - for the first 3 years. However, after that, tivo appears to be open to raise the prices if they wish. And nearly every penny is going to go towards the service, rather than towards the box.

Of course, if you buy this week, there's also a $150 mail in rebate, which appears to apply to a variety of cases, according to the web site. In theory, that would take the 520 down to 370 - which means that the price next week would be nearly double this week's price... for the same thing.
Posted by lwvirden (83 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Or if you are on DirecTV....
... the DVR box is free (Limit: two every six months) and the service
is only $5 a month for DVR support to ALL the DVR's you have.

And DirecTV has a new DVR service to replace TiVi, or so I hear.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
TiVo Is Too Good To Die
A lot of companies (Dish, DirecTV, Scientific Atlanta, etc.) have all attempted to emulate TiVo and for the most part, haven't really gotten the job done. TiVo will be acquired by someone (count on it) if for no other reason than to acquire their patents, software and the TiVo name which has become a verb. I don't even remember what it was like before TiVo, but I know it wasn't all that pleasant.
Posted by Sojourner2 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Don't forget that there are
other products, like Media Center, and LG's Media Center DVR, that do most of what TiVo does (plus burn to DVD), and don't have any fees...
DVR will not die even if TiVo does!!
Posted by marhab (2 comments )
Link Flag
Can they really be this dumb?
With so many DVR alternatives coming into the market it is just astounding that this is the best idea Tivo can come up with to increase revenue. Compared to the pricing models offered by the cable and satellite companies for their admitedly inferior DVRs Tivo doesn't stand a chance to compete. $16.95 a month for DVR service? I don't know anyone who would pay that much when similarly cheaper alternatives are available. It's just lunacy. Tivo had better pray they get acquired soon or else it is hard to imagine how they will survive with this newest business model.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Now Media Center will get the attention it deserves
No stupid fee's and you can burn to DVD, but more tricky to set up.

RIP Tivo.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Lifetime only for box - not household
This is not that big of a deal. The Lifetime service only applies to the box you own, it is not a blanket lifetime subscription for the customer. I was frustrated by this when my original Tivo box died. I bought a new Tivo, and will probably replace that soon with one that has a DVD burner, so I am happy I did not pay for the Lifetime again. Tivo is still the best DVR solution out there.
Posted by DenverK (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
TiVo could have been the iTunes of video
But they consistently pissed away every opportunity of being so. Right down to the missing ethernet jack on the box. They could have kept the pricing as is and used TiVo as a platform to download missed shows, other shows and movies at a price. Why not sell movies that are out in theaters right on the TiVo box for a premium? Anything would have been better than this dumb move.

The proposed model is going to destroy the company!
Posted by frankz00 (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It sort of seems....
... as though TiVo has already shot themselves in the head.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Tivo's newest thing is that if your unit dies (and they do tend to every couple of years) they charge a fee of $199 to transfer your lifetime service to your new replacement unit. How is that for sucky.
Posted by Ken_Potter (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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