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Old 05-27-2008, 05:36 PM   #91
tivoupgrade
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewTivo View Post
Yes, that was my point, if not well written/put. Technically the guide data is fixed cost, but since they license on per user basis, to tivo it's not.

Customer support does need to be in there, agreed, so add that to the guide data price.

Basic point still stands, though.
I'm having a hard time understanding your point. Is it that TiVo is charging too much for guide data? Or is it that the only aspect of the TiVo service you value is guide data?

As I'm sure you'll agree, the TiVo service offers much more than guide data. Comparing today's TiVo operating environment to the original ones eight years ago, reveals many more differences.

My understanding is that today, the boxes are priced so that TiVo does make money on the sale of each box. Eight years ago, the prices of the boxes reflected a small loss on each sale, with the expectation the subscription prices would ultimately bring them the revenue they needed. The problem with the lifetime service, during that time frame, was that it did not bring in enough revenue to offset the support and development costs. And people kept their units for a lot longer than TiVo ever anticipated.

Clearly, the market situation today is very different in that TiVo must continue to justify the prices of the service they offer by differentiating and providing a user experience that is valued, to some, at something higher than a more commodity offering.

There really isn't any 'right and wrong' here in that some people prefer the additional features and functionality, or prefer the user-interface, and are willing to pay a premium for it. Others don't value it, and would prefer a more commodity-oriented alternative at a lesser price.

But with all of that said, what does that have to do with the 'lifetime service' being resurrected? I think the point of the thread was that its now making sense for TiVo to offer that as an option, whereas several years ago, it was a losing proposition for TiVo to do so.
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Old 05-27-2008, 05:38 PM   #92
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At risk of wandering further off topic...
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewTivo View Post
Technically the guide data is fixed cost, but since they license on per user basis, to tivo it's not.
I think guide data is variable since it does vary with the number of units calling in each month. If your TiVo does not call in every six months they will mark your account as inactive and stop paying royalties to Tribune.

By vary with units, I don't mean that the price gets cheaper at larger quantity (although I see how I could have made that impression); just that the total amount paid to Tribune is a function of q.
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Old 05-28-2008, 01:45 AM   #93
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Originally Posted by tivoupgrade View Post
The problem with the lifetime service, during that time frame, was that it did not bring in enough revenue to offset the support and development costs. And people kept their units for a lot longer than TiVo ever anticipated.
There are many reasons why the above isn't close to a complete picture of the situation. Here are just a few:
  • Support is OK, but I don't want "development" if it means I get a product that becomes flakier over time.
  • I'm not a venture capitalist, I don't want my lifetime subscription to fund "development" of features (such as obtrusive advertising) that benefit TiVo much more than they do me.
  • In 2000, when I bought my first lifetime, TiVo was a flaky startup that was losing truckloads of money. Now, 8 years later, they're losing boatloads of money. Things have gotten worse. With that in mind, "lifetime" has a reasonable probability of meaning "lifetime of TiVo the company" rather than "lifetime of DVR". I should get a bit of a discount on my lifetime subscription for giving my money in advance to such a flaky company.
  • If you consider the marginal added cost of a lifetime subscription, I'm paying way too much. The guide data and servers aren't that expensive. The vast majority of my lifetime money is paying for inept ad campaigns, coast-to-coast flights for Tom Rogers, obscenely high "subscriber acquisition costs", and similar high dollar items that provide very little benefit to me.

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Old 05-28-2008, 06:02 AM   #94
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Originally Posted by Phantom Gremlin View Post
There
  • I'm not a venture capitalist, I don't want my lifetime subscription to fund "development" of features (such as obtrusive advertising) that benefit TiVo much more than they do me.
  • In 2000, when I bought my first lifetime, TiVo was a flaky startup that was losing truckloads of money. Now, 8 years later, they're losing boatloads of money. Things have gotten worse.
and yet here you are 8 years later - still complaining.
TiVo the company is still in business and significantly improving their financial picture with Tom Rogers running the business like a business.

If I felt like you did in what you posted - I would have switched years ago to some other DVR. Why have you not switched? What compels you to keep providing the venture capital?
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:15 AM   #95
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Phantom Gremlin, Marginal costs only come into play for commodities not differentiated goods. The marginal costs of anything related to TiVo are irrelevant.
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:09 AM   #96
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Originally Posted by tivoupgrade View Post
I'm having a hard time understanding your point. Is it that TiVo is charging too much for guide data? Or is it that the only aspect of the TiVo service you value is guide data?
Someone had started a discussion of "tivo lite"--reduced fee for reduced service, and a response suggested that the price reflected the costs of providing service to customers. I was jumping off from there--lifetime probably better reflects the cost structure tivo faces, since most of the costs of tivo's service are fixed--adding another box does not cost tivo anything (development of software, new software, etc.), with the exception of guide data and customer service. But, tivo prices its boxes so that people pay over time for some of these costs rather than paying it all up front (unless they buy lifetime).
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:35 AM   #97
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Funny that there are several free Electronic Program Guides for home PCs. It's truly difficult for me to believe that the value of a guide can be more than $3 to $5 a month.

TiVo should offer a Tivo Lite where all you get is the guide and no extras. (like the stupid Music Plus videos, the 360 Radio stations and the Suggestions)
"Value" is whatever people are willing to pay.

TiVo has already offered "TiVo Lite", called TiVo Basic, which is a "Lifetime" free limited version of TiVo service on two brands (Toshiba and Pioneer) of TiVo powered DVD/HDD recorders. Both are now discontinued but are available 2nd hand on eBay.

TiVo Basic has only 2 days of EPG, no search capabilities, no Season Passes, and only 1 active input. It's great!

I use two "Basic" Toshiba recorders to simultaneously record hi-def sourced programs "on the fly" from Series 3 TiVo's when I want to save them to DVD. The resulting DVD's are incredibly quick and easy to produce, look good, are anamorphic, and no computer skills are required!
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:41 AM   #98
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Phantom Gremlin or anyone else,

So do you think your employer gets to tell you how to spend the money they pay you for your labor? I think not. Unless you are a TiVo stock holder what TiVo does with the money it collects from the sale of subscriptions/hardware is non of your business.

Producers (TiVo) get to decide what they are willing to produce and what they are willing to accept as payment for it. Consumers (us) get to decide if we are willing to take the deal or not.

How much it costs to produce something does not set the selling price. What the "market" is willing to pay for the product/service ultimately does set the price. When the market is unwilling to pay a price high enough to entice the producer to continue producing the product then the product is no longer produced.

From a consumers point of view I am glad the lifetime service option is back, but TiVo should only be offering it because they believe it is in TiVo's best financial interest to do so.

Thanks,
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Old 05-28-2008, 10:33 AM   #99
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Phantom Gremlin or anyone else,

So do you think your employer gets to tell you how to spend the money they pay you for your labor? I think not. Unless you are a TiVo stock holder what TiVo does with the money it collects from the sale of subscriptions/hardware is non of your business.

Producers (TiVo) get to decide what they are willing to produce and what they are willing to accept as payment for it. Consumers (us) get to decide if we are willing to take the deal or not.

How much it costs to produce something does not set the selling price. What the "market" is willing to pay for the product/service ultimately does set the price. When the market is unwilling to pay a price high enough to entice the producer to continue producing the product then the product is no longer produced.

From a consumers point of view I am glad the lifetime service option is back, but TiVo should only be offering it because they believe it is in TiVo's best financial interest to do so.

Thanks,
I agree with this.

I can understand why, as consumers, we might want some new feature or a different/less-expensive pricing plan. But in the end, we vote with our dollars, and just because I might want a specific feature or a cheaper price, that doesn't mean it is in TiVo's best interest to do so. And ultimately, what is in their best interest is probably in the best interest of their customers; I'd like them to continue to be around to provide the service that I do pay for, and value, with my dollars.

Are they perfect in their offerings? Definitely not, but I have a lot less gripes with them compared to my content provider; I pay $90 / month and only watch about 5% of the channels that are offered. Nor am I particularly happy with the options and pricing offered by my cell phone carrier; I don't even use my voicemail, call forwarding, and barely even use the "phone" part of my smartphone. But I have to take the bad with the good if I want the features that I value...

[edit] As an aside, every now and then a potential customer asks me for something for free or at a significant discount based upon the logic that it doesn't cost me anything. I've never quite understood that position; as a small business owner, with a couple of employees, we need to make money to survive. If we had investors, it would require even more. Selling stuff is how we make our money and offset the costs of not just the goods we sell, but also the costs of advertising, running payroll, paying unemployment insurance, etc. Its no different than any other business.

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Old 05-28-2008, 12:12 PM   #100
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I keep reading responses that sound as if they were scripted from Tivo, Inc. justifying Tivo's strategy.

The only thing is... evidently Tivo continues to lose money.

Perhaps if Tivo were to open their minds to suggestions from their customers they could improve their financial position?

As Madman Muntz used to say, "Folks, I lose money on every sale but I make it up in volume!"
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Old 05-28-2008, 12:21 PM   #101
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Perhaps if Tivo were to open their minds to suggestions from their customers they could improve their financial position.
Which suggestions were they again? I don't seem to recall any that would include increasing revenue and/or cutting costs. Maybe I'm just forgetful.

Let's see what I can remember... People don't like ads on their screen, they don't like paying more per month, they don't like commitments, they do like lifetime but only if it is cheap, they want old lifetimes to transfer to new units for free, they want more feature development for the S1 to handle digital tuners and more development for the S2 and S3, they want an S4 like yesterday (for less than the S3 was launched at)...
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Old 05-28-2008, 12:48 PM   #102
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Does the cost go up for every unit sold?

I agree they are always spending R&D money but by definition if it does not vary with quantity then it is fixed.
I believe that the context was fixed relative to monthly usage. The fact that the cost of the software does not vary with each unit is a reason why it shouldn't be included in the price of each unit, not a reason why it should be.

The cost of developing software and keeping it up to date increases with each month of usage, hence being included in the monthly fee, rather than the initial fee of the unit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrewTivo View Post
Someone had started a discussion of "tivo lite"--reduced fee for reduced service, and a response suggested that the price reflected the costs of providing service to customers. I was jumping off from there--lifetime probably better reflects the cost structure tivo faces, since most of the costs of tivo's service are fixed--adding another box does not cost tivo anything (development of software, new software, etc.), with the exception of guide data and customer service. But, tivo prices its boxes so that people pay over time for some of these costs rather than paying it all up front (unless they buy lifetime).
Following this logic to it's end you're basically saying that the Tivo experience should be priced at:
1. A one time fee to purchase the box.
2. A single monthly subscription per configuration to pay for the guide data, software development, etc for that particular configuration. Identical configurations should be free because they only require duplicate guide data, software, etc. For example, whereas a TivoHD needs different software than a Series 2 and two Series 2s in two different households may each require different software to be compatible with the cable box, local programming, etc, two Series 2s recording the same service in the same house can use the same software and the same guide data.

The only thing that Tivo is doing right now that doesn't meet this specification is that the multiservice pricing isn't free when running duplicate units in identical setups.

I agree, but how many people really have more than one of the exact same unit being used with the exact same cable box, etc, etc? I know I don't, which is why I personally don't have a problem with the philosophy of Tivo's pricing structure. If I did I'd probably stop purchasing from Tivo.

Last edited by makeinu : 05-28-2008 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 05-28-2008, 12:52 PM   #103
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Uh, makeinu, where is the shareholder return on investment captured in your pricing model?
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Old 05-28-2008, 12:55 PM   #104
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Uh, makeinu, where is the shareholder return on investment captured in your pricing model?
Add percent markup to taste and serve.

Profit is, obviously, necessary for any business, but not making it discreet only generates bad will from the customers. Percent markup is the most discreet way to profit.
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Old 05-28-2008, 12:58 PM   #105
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Add percent markup to taste and serve.
Ah, therein lies the rub. I imagine the taste of the shareholders will be different from the taste of this forum membership. Since much of this discussion is about the price of the service I imagine that would be an important variable.
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Old 05-28-2008, 01:02 PM   #106
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I keep reading responses that sound as if they were scripted from Tivo, Inc. justifying Tivo's strategy.
Do you think that those of us who are supportive of TiVo's current strategy are following some sort of script? We support it and are capable of verbalizing that. Whether we are right or not may be another question, but an opinion is an opinion.

I have been following TiVo since 1999, and have also been a stock holder for quite some time. I also happen to think TiVo has significantly improved their offerings and their financial position in the past several years.

Admittedly, I have not recently read an annual or quarterly report, however the last time I checked, the margin of their losses has decreased and the investment community seems to be supportive of the direction of the company; their current stock price also reflects this.

I have always felt that TiVo faced a particular challenge with their attempts to execute a 'differentiated product strategy' as their market became commodity. This was the same challenge that SGI faced in the mid-90's and they failed at it - and some of that DNA was definitely brought into TiVo's genetics when they were founded.

Even today, especially with the economic climate being what it is, it appears to be a challenge to command that value with their current value - I can tell you that is true based upon the number of people I know, even friends, who just stick with their generic DVR's vs using TiVo.

Personally, I don't think lowering their prices and giving people "more for less" will allow them to be viable; they would not be able to sustain the R&D effort and would not increase their volumes sufficiently by watering down their offerings, they just don't have the reach.

Beyond that, the jury is out, from my perspective. I am just glad that it appears they can now financially justify offering the lifetime subscription option again, it was not viable for quite some time, and it now appears to be viable. Perhaps there will be more good surprises around the corner.
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Old 05-28-2008, 01:04 PM   #107
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Ah, therein lies the rub. I imagine the taste of the shareholders will be different from the taste of this forum membership. Since much of this discussion is about the price of the service I imagine that would be an important variable.
Yes, but I imagine the forum membership would be happier to conclude that the product is overpriced than unfairly/deceptively priced.
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:36 PM   #108
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Just for the record I have no connection to TiVo in anyway - I have owned TiVo stock in the past and made money doing so, but do not currently own any. My problem maybe I just don't see TiVo costing that much for what I get. My DVRs cost me the following:

Dish 510 (not a TiVo):................$120 plus $6/mo for service
Humax Series 2 TiVo:..................Free after rebate plus $300 for lifetime service
TiVo Series 2:............................Free after rebate plus $7/mo for service
TiVo HD with wireless adapter:......$200 plus $300 for lifetime service

All the DVRs where purchased new and were/are well worth their cost to me. I have to time shift 100% of what I watch due to my work schedule plus I am not sure I could ever stand watching live TV again.

Thanks,
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:58 PM   #109
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For what its worth, TiVo most likely lumps their cost for guide data (amongst some other items I suppose) into a line called "Cost of Service Revenues". Without reading their 10Q report, I am 90% certain that is where they would put it. That Cost of Service Revenues figure runs at about $43mil this past year, and at an average of 4.1million subscribers (that they count) that is less than $11 a year per subscriber for TiVo's ongoing cost of running that box.
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Old 05-28-2008, 06:59 PM   #110
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I am to understand correctly that Lifetime for a second unit is now 299.00? I bought a HDTivo in December and payed 399.00 Lifetime, and so now it is $299.00?? Can I get a credit at all?
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:57 PM   #111
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Bringing back lifetime subs and lowering the cost for additional units per account to $299 is a great thing.

Some things I have seen mentioned...
  • Multiple Tivos in one home could share guide data from the master Tivo
  • Tivo LITE - guide/season pass only, no doodads
  • Give owners control to adjust their UI (colors/fonts...)

These are simple ways Tivo could lower their costs and improve the customer experience.

R&D money is wasted on features that have limited appeal. If they provide additional revenue streams (Amazon Unbox or Advertisements) then they should be vendor funded and not passed onto the customer base.

I wish I could turn off all the "extras".

I have no information on Scientific Atlantic or Motorola or other DVR manufacturers but it doesn't seem like they're losing money.
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:11 PM   #112
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and yet here you are 8 years later - still complaining.
TiVo the company is still in business and significantly improving their financial picture with Tom Rogers running the business like a business.

If I felt like you did in what you posted - I would have switched years ago to some other DVR. Why have you not switched? What compels you to keep providing the venture capital?
Yes, I'm still complaining. I'm complaining because of the way the arguments are being framed here. I feel that a Dr. Phil quote is in order: "Don't piss on my head and tell me it's raining."

I keep providing the venture capital because TiVo is still the best solution to my needs. If I could get access to content encrypted by cablecards by using a program like Myth TV, I'd switch in a flash.
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Old 05-28-2008, 09:23 PM   #113
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Straight out off TiVo's 1Q Transcript...

"...Additionally, as many of you know, over the last six months we have been offering to our sub base a product lifetime option with some success. Because of this we have made the decision to re-introduce the option for all potential customers. We recognize that there are some customers that like the idea of paying for service up front and we like the concept of up-front cash with lower churn risk. Currently we are offering product lifetime at $399 for new customers and at $299 for our current pays. As we have indicated before, TiVo HD is priced in a way that involves a far smaller subsidy of hardware giving us greater flexibility in our service pricing strategies...."
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Old 05-29-2008, 12:50 AM   #114
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Yes, I'm still complaining. I'm complaining because of the way the arguments are being framed here. I feel that a Dr. Phil quote is in order: "Don't piss on my head and tell me it's raining."

I keep providing the venture capital because TiVo is still the best solution to my needs. If I could get access to content encrypted by cablecards by using a program like Myth TV, I'd switch in a flash.
so staying at the forefront and in some ways leading the move to cable cards and legit content downloads is wasted R&D but somehow TiVo is still the best solution. Seems like someone is calling lemonade piss-water to me.
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:06 AM   #115
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I am to understand correctly that Lifetime for a second unit is now 299.00? I bought a HDTivo in December and payed 399.00 Lifetime, and so now it is $299.00?? Can I get a credit at all?
Yes. Yes. No.
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Old 05-29-2008, 07:30 AM   #116
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From a consumers point of view I am glad the lifetime service option is back, but TiVo should only be offering it because they believe it is in TiVo's best financial interest to do so.
And why would anyone believe anything else?

It's amazing how much smarter some TiVo Forum posters (not atmuscarella) believe they are compared with TiVo's management!
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:40 AM   #117
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Originally Posted by wblynch View Post
Some things I have seen mentioned...
Multiple Tivos in one home could share guide data from the master Tivo
If they can license the guide data that way.
Quote:

Tivo LITE - guide/season pass only, no doodads
Tivo doesn't want to do that. They rely on the core DVR functionality be pay, as part of their business model. They would need a major investor or partnership to infuse funding to change that.

Offering a "lite" service might not make them much money for the expense.
Quote:

Give owners control to adjust their UI (colors/fonts...)
That will cost them R&D money for no gain.
Quote:

I wish I could turn off all the "extras".
I just stay out of the HMO/HME menu. I need nothing there. Some probably pay to be there, or at least TiVo has some sort of placement deal.
Quote:
I have no information on Scientific Atlantic or Motorola or other DVR manufacturers but it doesn't seem like they're losing money.
Their costs are basically subsidized by subscription to the cable service.
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Old 05-29-2008, 01:32 PM   #118
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Poor planning

Tivo made the mistake of producing a quality product. If they had made a product that failed after 3 or 4 years, the lifetime plan would work out for everyone. They keep income rolling in the door, and the people that want to not have monthly fees can pay a lump sum.

With 5 lifetime subs ranging from a S1 to a HD, I am grateful that they did make the wrong decision to create something durable, and allow user repairs in the case of most failures.
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Old 05-29-2008, 02:28 PM   #119
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Tivo LITE - guide/season pass only, no doodads
Rather than Tivo LITE I'd like to see the old S2's resused as a Tivo MRV Client, I'd willing pay $50-$100 to convert a paid up S2 into a view only box. No Guide Data, No season Passes, Just the ability to view shows xfered from other subscribed boxes on the account with no monthly fee. A daily service call wouldn't be necessary and the only guide data would be that xfered with the recording so there shouldn't be any ongoing cost to Tivo.
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Old 05-29-2008, 03:00 PM   #120
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Rather than Tivo LITE I'd like to see the old S2's resused as a Tivo MRV Client, I'd willing pay $50-$100 to convert a paid up S2 into a view only box. No Guide Data, No season Passes, Just the ability to view shows xfered from other subscribed boxes on the account with no monthly fee. A daily service call wouldn't be necessary and the only guide data would be that xfered with the recording so there shouldn't be any ongoing cost to Tivo.
This is a great idea. Sign me up!
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