June 13, 2004
TiVo's fight for survival

Via Mark Evanier comes this article on TiVo and its litigious strategy for long-term survival. I love me some TiVo, and we bought the lifetime pass on the theory that they'll be around long enough to make it a better deal than the monthly fee, but I confess I've always had some doubt about its prospects. I worry about their cash flow, since it seems to me that a sizeable number of their customers will pay them once and then never again, forcing them to always be looking for new customers, which is more expensive than reselling to existing ones. Maybe their Home Network option will be more of a cash cow, and of course maybe they'll figure out a way to get existing TiVoheads to upgrade units every couple of years. Who knows? Anyway, the article is a good read, so check it out.

UPDATE: And now TiVo has integrated downloading music into its standard service. And they're not charging existing users extra for it. Great for me, but it doesn't alleviate my concerns. Via Technology Review.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 13, 2004 to TV and movies | TrackBack

When we bought our house last summer, we signed up with TimeWarner. They promised us that a DVR was due out in September or October 2003. When we finally ditched the service, after months of not being able to get much reception on the channels above 100, they still didn't have that DVR here in Houston. We're happily back with DirecTV now and you'll have to pry my TiVo out of my cold, dead hands.

Posted by: Sue on June 13, 2004 4:27 PM

TiVo vs DVR must be dependent on where you live. I've had DVR with Time Warner for a year without any problem, however, I have heard that some people in other locations have regretted going with it instead of TiVo.

My brother lives in the Philadelphia suburbs and loves his TiVo with DirectTV.

Posted by: William Hughes on June 13, 2004 4:37 PM

I have Tivo in Dallas with over-the-air broadcasting, and in Sonoma with DirecTV, and I'm with you in that I'm never going without it.

However, as regards the "lifetime" membership--it's for the lifetime of the box, which has a projected life (according to their SEC documents) of under 4 years. . .If you have to replace the box (and you will), you have to buy a new membership. And you don't get an equipment rebate on the new box, since rebates are only for new subscribers.

Posted by: precinct1233 on June 13, 2004 9:58 PM

By the way, the Home Media Option is now included in the monthly subscription price, no extra charge. All the features are now active on your TiVo box.

Posted by: sean on June 14, 2004 9:49 AM

One important point about the lifetime sub.

Early on - before January 2000, I think - TiVo's contract was ambiguous as to the meaning of lifetime. TiVo changed the wording at that time and grandfathered then current owners (to avoid litigation).

If you bought your TiVo in that time frame, you are entitled to replace your TiVo one time and maintain your lifetime sub.

Posted by: Charles M on June 14, 2004 10:24 AM

THe other thing about the TiVo rebates - esp. if you have DirecTV, and you run into issues with getting a new box, ask to speak to customer retention. Lots of offers for rebates and free months and etc.

To me a more important thing about the TiVo's long-term survivability is the news that DTV is possibly not going to continue their relationship, since now something like half of all TiVo subscribers are actually DirecTiVo subscribers.

Posted by: Richard on June 14, 2004 10:31 AM