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View Full Version : Tivo - A 'Walled Garden' that is dying on the vine




badmac78
Nov 14, 2010, 10:11 AM
Tivo needs to get in the game!
http://t.co/sKwUOF3



jaw04005
Nov 14, 2010, 10:40 AM
If TiVo would quit charging $15-25 per month for guide data, they may have more customers.

They've blown the hardware pricing from the beginning (TiVo debuted around $999). It should have had a healthy margin of about 30% and nothing more. They never should have gotten into the hardware subsidy game. It's a game they can't win because they're not the cable providers.

Their subscription plans have always been a mess (and downright anti-consumer). Guide data is not worth the cost they charge. The networks give that data over to metadata companies for free. It's not like it's proprietary information. The fact they charge an additional fee for TiVo customers with multiple boxes is ludicrous (way to punish your best customers).

They should have begged DirecTV to take them back years ago, and build a proper TiVo box for DirecTV customers that includes all the functionality of their own boxes.

They should have worked with cable box providers like Scientific Atlanta and Motorola to provide their software. At the same time, they should have been courting cable providers.

They should have also ramped up their hardware revisions so that people would want a new TiVo every one to two years.

The only thing they had going for them for the last few years was the software and they blew that with the latest TiVo Premiere Flash-based software. Critics and customers both lambasted it as being slow and unintuitive (it was essentially beta software).

TiVo is just a mess of a company. Hopefully, someone like Comcast or DirecTV will buy their assets and put their IP to good use.

ecschwarz
Nov 14, 2010, 01:42 PM
I agree with all of these discussions...while I love the TiVo hardware+software mix (got a few other folks hooked, too), I really am disappointed that TiVo is treating me as a second-class citizen because I bought a TiVo HD in December (the Premiere, its replacement came out in April). I know technology is always changing and the minute you buy something, you're SOL, but at least Apple has the decency to support things for a few product cycles.

The Premiere doesn't add a whole lot of features compared to the Series 3/HD models, but it got Pandora first, it got an HD menu, and there's rumors that it will have Hulu+.

The other frustrating thing is that it takes TiVo ages to fix bugs or improve things. Right now, I can't get a CableCARD, but I can pick up unencrypted local HD channels - because of that and that TiVo will not let you pair these to another channel in the listings, if I want to record anything in HD, I have to set a manual recording and it has no guide/channel data.

That being said, you can go through the TiVo forums and find plenty of complaints (just like on here for Apple products), and TiVo is still better than most cable DVRs, and I don't have to deal with Comcast.

They really do need to fix up their non-DVR/Internet offerings, since devices like the Apple TV and Roku make the TiVo's features look like a joke.

Nermal
Nov 14, 2010, 02:13 PM
If TiVo would quit charging $15-25 per month for guide data, they may have more customers.

That's interesting because over here you buy the box (approx US$300) and that's it; there are no additional monthly fees. It'd be interesting to see what happens in other countries.

From a quick glance at the Tivo US site, it seems that the cheapest monthly fee is $13, and even then you're still paying $300 for the box!

mdatwood
Nov 14, 2010, 02:28 PM
Why pay $300 for a Tivo box when I can pay my cable company $5-$10/month to rent a box (even less if I call and complain and talk about leaving)? In this scenario the benefits of renting are great because when it breaks they send out a new one, and if it gets old and I read about a newer model they'll give me that one instead.

Technology changes so quickly renting makes sense in this case.

ecschwarz
Nov 14, 2010, 03:08 PM
Why pay $300 for a Tivo box when I can pay my cable company $5-$10/month to rent a box (even less if I call and complain and talk about leaving)? In this scenario the benefits of renting are great because when it breaks they send out a new one, and if it gets old and I read about a newer model they'll give me that one instead.

Technology changes so quickly renting makes sense in this case.

I agree with you entirely - and I think most other people are voting with their wallets (I know me saying this and dropping money on the box and lifetime service contradict) - I used to work on a college campus where Comcast provided our service, but would not allow individual upgrades (bulk account) - they were supposed to, but wouldn't - so unless I went the HTPC or DVD recorder or VCR route, I would be SOL for recording. One of my friends got a Series 2 for $50 and is paying for the service, and my girlfriend picked up a Series 2 w/lifetime service for $200, so in some cases, TiVo < cable DVR costs.

That being said, if I were to do it all over (especially if I ever move to satellite), I probably would just have a receiver/cable box with DVR built-in. If I say heck with cable or satellite and just have the Apple TV (Netflix/Hulu+??), the TiVo would still be good for recording over-the-air HD and function as expected.

ecschwarz
Feb 3, 2011, 08:34 PM
I don't know if anyone else say, but since this thread was last written to, TiVo came out with their iPad app, which is pretty nice, but requires a Premiere (essentially angering any Series 3/HD user), and they got rid of the lifetime service (again). It's a shame because one time they had the best DVRs out there....

Uofmtiger
Feb 3, 2011, 08:42 PM
They should have begged DirecTV to take them back years ago, and build a proper TiVo box for DirecTV customers that includes all the functionality of their own boxes.TiVo is coming back to Directv.

CWallace
Feb 4, 2011, 07:49 PM
Why pay $300 for a Tivo box when I can pay my cable company $5-$10/month to rent a box.

In my case with Comcast in Seattle, it's because Tivo works as a DVR and the Comcast box doesn't. ;)

We were beta testing some Microsoft DVR software for years and while it had it's issues, it worked well enough that I retired my Tivo Series 2 and used it as my sole DVR.

But then either Microsoft or Comcast pulled the plug and we were rolled back to the iGuide/SARA software and it was so useless that within four days I bought a Tivo HD.

Tivo and Comcast have had a four-year beta test program using the Tivo software on the Motorola boxes in the Northeast, but I do not believe it will ever be offered outside of the NE so I went with a lifetime Tivo subscription.

ecschwarz
Feb 5, 2011, 12:17 AM
Tivo and Comcast have had a four-year beta test program using the Tivo software on the Motorola boxes in the Northeast, but I do not believe it will ever be offered outside of the NE so I went with a lifetime Tivo subscription.

...and then TiVo got rid of the lifetime subscription. Seriously, they can't decide what they want their pay model to be and then people who forked over $650+ for a TiVo HD + Lifetime are being treated like second-class citizens who TiVo thinks should drop everything an upgrade, but lose their lifetime status. Not a good idea to upset current customers.

It would be like Apple saying that the third-generation iPod touch was total garbage and no software updates work work with it, since the fourth-generation is the most recent model.

negatv1
Feb 6, 2011, 11:08 AM
I've owned a TiVo since the series 1 and currently use a TiVoHD, but I will say that this is the end of the line for me.

Reasons being:

- Monthly service fee for guide data. Sell me hardware, or sell me service. Not interested in paying this premium on top of my cable service anymore.

- Tired old interface that has become annoying to navigate and data input is painful using a remote. New keyboard remote looks neat. Which of course only works for the Premier, and not my old HD. Ditto for the iPad app.

- The competition has caught up to provide a 'close enough' experience. And in some cases provide more features(U-Verse has four tuners, for example.) Why do I want to own a box when I can just get it from my service provider, where should it break down, they will replace it. My 1 year old TiVo? Another $300+.

Ordering U-Verse this morning...

aristobrat
Feb 6, 2011, 12:28 PM
I've owned a TiVo since the series 1 and currently use a TiVoHD, but I will say that this is the end of the line for me.

Reasons being:

- Monthly service fee for guide data. Sell me hardware, or sell me service. Not interested in paying this premium on top of my cable service anymore.
Since you have TiVoHDs and older, why didn't you purchase the lifetime service (if you were looking to avoid the monthly service fees)?

The fee also covers the price of the four quarterly TiVo software updates that TiVo sends out each year.

Looks like with these new multi-room DVRs that providers are coming out with, there's finally some competition for TiVo. Only took what, a decade?! :)

gglockner
Feb 6, 2011, 01:11 PM
I could take the basic arguments and switch TiVo/generic DVR to Apple or other computers.

Ex: Change "I would never get a TiVo because I can get a DVR from my cable company that is cheaper and does everything I need" to: "I would never get a Mac because I can get a Windows computer that is cheaper and does everything I need".

Ex: Change "Why should I pay a monthly fee to TiVo when I can build my own DVR and run Windows MCE or MythTV." to: "Why should I pay for Mac OS X when I can build my own computer and run Linux."

Ex: Change "Why should I use a closed system like TiVo when I could have an open computer like Windows MCE." To: "Why should I use a closed system like iPhone when I can have an open system like Android."

OK, jokes aside, there are a lot of myths in this thread:

1. TiVo still offers Product Lifetime Service. It's not cheap, but it is definitely still available.

2. Roughly speaking, TiVo now offers two pricing plans: one with a low monthly fee (or lifetime service), and one where the boxes are very cheap but the monthly service is more expensive (and lifetime is not initially available).

I've been a loyal TiVo user since 2001. I think my wife would trade our four Macs for Windows long before she'd trade our TiVo for a lesser quality DVR.

Also, used TiVos are widely available, many with product lifetime service. From the Series 2 onward, about the only part that is unreliable is the hard drive, and these can be replaced easily and inexpensively (and without affecting any service contracts - including Product Lifetime Service).

If you're really interested, check out tivocommunity.com.

ecschwarz
Feb 6, 2011, 04:55 PM
1. TiVo still offers Product Lifetime Service. It's not cheap, but it is definitely still available.

2. Roughly speaking, TiVo now offers two pricing plans: one with a low monthly fee (or lifetime service), and one where the boxes are very cheap but the monthly service is more expensive (and lifetime is not initially available).

I've been a loyal TiVo user since 2001. I think my wife would trade our four Macs for Windows long before she'd trade our TiVo for a lesser quality DVR.

Also, used TiVos are widely available, many with product lifetime service. From the Series 2 onward, about the only part that is unreliable is the hard drive, and these can be replaced easily and inexpensively (and without affecting any service contracts - including Product Lifetime Service).

If you're really interested, check out tivocommunity.com.

I don't think anyone is doubting you - the argument where TiVo ≈ Apple also falls apart in a few specific areas, though. Apple is making money and people are flocking to their products more often than before. TiVo is hemorrhaging users because of software updates that don't get fixed for months (there was a bug where the Series 3/HD would just freeze on an analog channel if you left it tuned in for more than a few hours), the cost of crappier cable/satellite DVRs, and that they have many half-baked features that are great initially, but aren't updated to stay competitive (Netflix being a big one). At one point the Series 3/HD models had the best Netflix implementation and have been surpassed by a lot of products, including Apple's own new Apple TV.

The Lifetime Service was "taken away" back in November but in reality, TiVo just made it so that you have to get it directly from them when paying full-price for a box (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20022799-17.html). I think the other issues that have been frustrating for many TiVo users is that many cable companies are switching to an all-digital system, so you lose use of the extra tuner (if you have a dual-tuner Series 2), and either have to use your cable box/DTA/satellite receiver/etc. to tune. The other frustrating thing is that many cable companies are still clueless about CableCARDs (I fought with Comcast on two different instances to get my HD working with extra channels), but TiVo also has not made it possible to pair unencrypted digital channels with other channels in the guide if you do not have a CableCARD (most cablecos offer the networks in HD unencrypted).

That being said, if you can deal with working around your cableco, TiVos are great I've had two friends pick up used Series 2s with Lifetime Service and are quite happy. I just think that a lot of people who have newer boxes are being ignored/passed up in favor of users of the Premiere box, when some features should be easy to add. At least Apple waits a generation or two before phasing out support for new-feature software updates.

I'm not saying that I'm going to abandon TiVo (it's probably one of my most-used gadgets), but I just think as a company, TiVo needs to get in gear because many people are picking alternatives based on cost/convenience.

negatv1
Feb 6, 2011, 05:16 PM
Since you have TiVoHDs and older, why didn't you purchase the lifetime service (if you were looking to avoid the monthly service fees)?

The fee also covers the price of the four quarterly TiVo software updates that TiVo sends out each year.

Looks like with these new multi-room DVRs that providers are coming out with, there's finally some competition for TiVo. Only took what, a decade?! :)



Because it's lifetime of the box. This box which TiVo makes obsolete before what I consider a 'lifetime' to be - even in as far as tech is concerned.

I'm not aware of the quarterly software updates that you are referring to, but I'd truly hope whatever quarterly updates make it to monthly subscribers as well. That would truly be odd if it didn't.

I really have to say that I was surprised that the Pandora app made it to my decrepit old TivO HD box.

Could I upgrade to a new Premier box? Sure, of course then I'll need to coordinate with my cable company to swap out my single channel cards for a multi channel card, which is a slight annoyance. But then again, I've demoed a Premier box - and can't say that I was motivated to upgrade.

gglockner
Feb 6, 2011, 05:17 PM
I don't think anyone is doubting you - the argument where TiVo ≈ Apple also falls apart in a few specific areas, though. Apple is making money and people are flocking to their products more often than before. TiVo is hemorrhaging users because of software updates that don't get fixed for months (there was a bug where the Series 3/HD would just freeze on an analog channel if you left it tuned in for more than a few hours), the cost of crappier cable/satellite DVRs, and that they have many half-baked features that are great initially, but aren't updated to stay competitive (Netflix being a big one).

Here I differ with you. I have personally logged several bugs with Apple as a developer; it took months for Apple to respond, only to tell me that "yes, this is a known issue" with no ETA on fixing the bug. As for Apple being profitable, that's true today, but it was not when Steve Jobs returned in 1997.

TiVo's fundamental problem is that they are trying to compete with (nearly) free. Apple figured out how to compete against free mobile phones. I hope that TiVo does the same, though it seems unlikely. Going to subsidized boxes is a step in the right direction, but TiVo still seems like they've got a hard time getting beyond their small but loyal fanbase. Apple has figured out how to make profits on a niche product (the Mac) as well as found some mainstream products (iPod, iPhone).

aristobrat
Feb 6, 2011, 06:36 PM
Because it's lifetime of the box. This box which TiVo makes obsolete before what I consider a 'lifetime' to be - even in as far as tech is concerned.
I guess it's how you define obsolete. I have two Series 3 TiVos (so they're a generation older than your decrepitly old TiVoHD). They continue to record stuff just as reliably today as they did when I bought them in 2007. And they're likely to continue to work just as reliably for many years to come.

To me, they'll be obsolete when TV technology changes to where they can no longer record shows.

I'm not aware of the quarterly software updates that you are referring to, but I'd truly hope whatever quarterly updates make it to monthly subscribers as well. That would truly be odd if it didn't.
Sorry about my wording -- you're right. It doesn't matter how you pay your fee (monthly, or up-front). Sometimes the updates add new features, like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Pandora, or support for the iPad app. Sometimes the updates are mostly maintenance releases.

negatv1
Feb 6, 2011, 07:20 PM
I guess it's how you define obsolete. I have two Series 3 TiVos (so they're a generation older than your decrepitly old TiVoHD). They continue to record stuff just as reliably today as they did when I bought them in 2007. And they're likely to continue to work just as reliably for many years to come.

To me, they'll be obsolete when TV technology changes to where they can no longer record shows.


I agree with your definition of obsolete. The problem is that TiVo has deemed your box obsolete (ok well maybe just 'legacy' at the moment) and stops releasing new features and updates to push you to the new Premier box. If I believed that the Premier was truly a next generation device that really offered more than the TiVoHD, I would upgrade.

But, from what I've seen, its just a kludgy box whose only real selling points are that it works with the new remote and the iPad app. And that's not good enough to get me to upgrade. To another TiVo, anyways.


My thought for TiVo is this: create and sell awesome boxes. Drop the fee-based subscription model and see how many people are actually put off from purchasing your devices. Provide excellent support for these devices. Differentiate yourself from the "me too" freebie PVR's offered by cable companies.

gglockner
Feb 6, 2011, 09:14 PM
I owned a first generation TiVo that had lifetime service. I traded it to a friend. Several parts have been replaced over the years - multiple hard drives and a modem. But it still works. Is it obsolete? In a way, yes: TiVo long stopped releasing software updates, and it only works on analog signals (which are no longer available OTA - only via some cable systems). But it still works fine.

I agree that there's huge room for improvement for TiVo. They have had few innovations in recent years. And many of the changes (new UI, internet videos) leave much to be desired. But it works reliably, and that's worth a lot.

Weaselboy
Feb 7, 2011, 10:21 AM
As an ex-Tivo owner, there is an issue I have not seen mentioned in this thread and that is the requirement of a both Cablecard and a SDV Tuning Adaptor for Tivo in most areas. If you look over Tivo forums you will see loads of users having trouble with one or the other of these technologies. The cable co. DVR has improved to the point it gets the job done now without fussing around with all the kludges a Tivo box requires.

aristobrat
Feb 7, 2011, 09:47 PM
The problem is that TiVo has deemed your box obsolete (ok well maybe just 'legacy' at the moment) and stops releasing new features and updates to push you to the new Premier box. If I believed that the Premier was truly a next generation device that really offered more than the TiVoHD, I would upgrade.
I see what you mean. I guess I'm odd in that I consider the TiVo to be more of an appliance, like my washing machine and refrigerator. I see new versions of those (with new features) every month at Best Buy, but I don't feel like I'm being urged to upgrade something that's working fine.

CWallace
Feb 9, 2011, 09:56 PM
When I purchased my TivoHD, lifetime service was not an option. So I did the three-year pre-pay for $300 (plus $300 for the device). My hope was that Comcast would roll Tivo out to the rest of the country in those three years, but that never happened (and I believe never will).

My three years were up in August, but Tivo offered me a $100 discount to go Lifetime, so I did. So I'm about $900 into the thing, which probably sounds insane to some of you, but I DVR a lot of TV so I have found the costs worth it.

Never had an issue with a Multi-type Cable Card. We have yet to launch SDV service here in Seattle, but I am sure it will be coming and hopefully my experience with it will be painless.

If not, I shall hold my nose and start renting a Comcast DVR again. I suppose it would be kinda nice to have OnDemand. ;)

bellybutton2
Apr 21, 2013, 10:17 AM
I agree with your definition of obsolete. The problem is that TiVo has deemed your box obsolete (ok well maybe just 'legacy' at the moment) and stops releasing new features and updates to push you to the new Premier box. If I believed that the Premier was truly a next generation device that really offered more than the TiVoHD, I would upgrade.

But, from what I've seen, its just a kludgy box whose only real selling points are that it works with the new remote and the iPad app. And that's not good enough to get me to upgrade. To another TiVo, anyways.


My thought for TiVo is this: create and sell awesome boxes. Drop the fee-based subscription model and see how many people are actually put off from purchasing your devices. Provide excellent support for these devices. Differentiate yourself from the "me too" freebie PVR's offered by cable companies.

I still have my VCR with an external ATSC HDTV tuner hooked up to the VCR; when I want to record tv shows, I put the ATSC tuner on the channel the show is on, set the VCR timer and watch the recorded show on my schedule with NO DVR hassles: 1) $15 dollar a month fee just to use an OTA antenna, 2) hooking up a telephone line (more wires), 3) no menu to guide me to the ANT/CABLE/SAT hook up feature(s). I would not be sad if I watched the news on tv: "TIVO GOES OUT OF BUSINESS FOR GOOD!"
TIVO is dying:http://gizmodo.com/5412735/tivo-is-slowly-dying

brentsg
Apr 21, 2013, 11:47 AM
I still have my VCR with an external ATSC HDTV tuner hooked up to the VCR; when I want to record tv shows, I put the ATSC tuner on the channel the show is on, set the VCR timer and watch the recorded show on my schedule with NO DVR hassles: 1) $15 dollar a month fee just to use an OTA antenna, 2) hooking up a telephone line (more wires), 3) no menu to guide me to the ANT/CABLE/SAT hook up feature(s). I would not be sad if I watched the news on tv: "TIVO GOES OUT OF BUSINESS FOR GOOD!"
TIVO is dying:http://gizmodo.com/5412735/tivo-is-slowly-dying


You just responded to a years old post and linked a years old article to make your point. LOL at DVR hassles. Enjoy your 1980s technology.

My bad, just realized you probably posted this from CompuServe (Classic) and we're just now seeing it.

RickyB
Apr 21, 2013, 06:54 PM
In the UK, TiVo provides the PVR functionality for Virgin Media cable. The function is branded TiVo also.

JAT
Apr 25, 2013, 02:58 PM
I still have my VCR with an external ATSC HDTV tuner hooked up to the VCR; when I want to record tv shows, I put the ATSC tuner on the channel the show is on, set the VCR timer and watch the recorded show on my schedule with NO DVR hassles:

If you think that VCR process is superior to a Tivo DVR, I'm not sure you know what "hassles" means.

macalec
Apr 25, 2013, 02:59 PM
If you think that VCR process is superior to a Tivo DVR, I'm not sure you know what "hassles" means.

Totally agree with you!