How TIVO can survive the inevitable IP Apocalypse

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by DVRanger, Apr 25, 2018.

  1. DVRanger

    DVRanger New Member

    Nov 28, 2017


    Hi all,
    So I've used TIVO a long time. And while it is true that it appears the QAM system it depends upon is probably going away in the next 5-10 years, I believe TIVO can survive without FCC intervention.

    Three things need to happen for TIVO to survive for those that like Cable TV and want to continue to consume it as we do now:
    1. TIVO needs to remain financially afloat and continue releasing retail boxes (seems like a challenge, but hey they made it this far)
    2. TIVO users need to continue to use TIVO and not cave to cable companies cable boxes. If there reaches a point this is impossible, cancel your Cable TV package entirely until your cable provider reconsiders or find another cable provider that will accommodate TIVO if possible.
    3. If you need to buy new TIVO hardware in 5 years that supports IP for your cable provider, buy the new hardware instead of caving and renting "cheaper" cable company cable boxes.

    1. Cable TV is in deep doo-doo right now. A lot of people are cutting the cord entirely and going to streaming services.
    2. Because of #1, every single cable TV subscriber is of great value. Cable companies can't afford to lose subscribers, even if just a few.
    3. TIVO subscribers are likely some of the most cable-faithful customers. Meaning, we likely watch more than the average cable user, spend more than the average cable user, etc.
    4. TIVO subscribers are likely more technically adept than most cable customers, so as long as you get our TIVO working we are not going to call you every week because we forgot the password on our router - meaning in the long run less customer support needed.

    A lot of people are looking at this like cable companies don't need to support QAM and CableCARD anymore once they fully switch to IP, therefore they won't. That may be the case, but if we remain united in refusing to switch to the cable provider's boxes then cable companies will be forced to work with TIVO in finding *some* solution for us, whether its an adapter or new TIVO hardware. Not because they have to due to the FCC, but because they have to for financial reasons as us TIVO users are not users they want to lose entirely from subscribing to their Cable TV packages due to the above reasons.

    IMO back when the FCC drafted the cablecard requirements to allow third party hardware, those mandates were necessary as there were so many cable subscribers and cable TV providers didn't need more users. Now, though, cable companies need us TIVO users more than we need the cable companies IMO. Therefore, it makes sense that they will want to develop a solution for us users even if they are not forced to.

    If anything, cable subscribers with TIVO have more leverage now than they ever did before due to their faithfulness to the cable subscription model. We just need to collectively stick to the above gameplan and not buy into the idea that we need to go with the cable company's boxes for cable TV.
  2. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    Between IP and ATSC 3, we need a doomsday forum.
    mrsean, Bigg, computersteve and 3 others like this.
  3. mschnebly

    mschnebly Well-Known Member

    Feb 21, 2011
    TiVo users are such a small part of cable company users that they really wont care if they cancel their accounts. It's just one less headache for them to deal with. If TiVo users think they can force cable companies into "finding *some* solution for us" they are delusional.
    "If anything, cable subscribers with TIVO have more leverage now than they ever did before due to their faithfulness to the cable subscription model." ---- This is just not true.
    sangs, morac, Bigg and 4 others like this.
  4. tampa8

    tampa8 Official Tivo User

    Jan 25, 2016
    Ct & FL
    If they need all that to happen they are doomed. TIVO users are a speck to how many subscribers there are not using TIVO.
    Bigg, dlfl and mschnebly like this.
  5. dfreybur

    dfreybur Active Member

    Jan 27, 2006


    I'm never going back to a cable TV subscription. Billing abuses combined with the benefits of streaming sees to that.

    But I once had a cable provider use a Tivo as their cable DVR box. I'd never accept anything less than a Tivo as a cable DVR box. All other DVRs are less. So question one I'd ask is - Do you use Tivo as your DVR? If the answer is no then my response is no I won't become their subscriber.
    pldoolittle likes this.
  6. wmcbrine

    wmcbrine Well-Known Mumbler

    Aug 2, 2003
    Not just QAM, but the whole idea of "Cable TV", as we knew it, is doomed within that time frame, IMHO. It's all gonna be OTT IPTV, just another Internet service. The irony is that we now finally have an actual competitive market in "set-top boxes" -- except it's Roku vs. Apple TV vs. etc. I'm not quite ready to turn off my TiVos in favor of that approach, but in 5-10 years, it seems inevitable.

    I'd like to think that TiVo could join that competition, but so far, they haven't quite managed it.
    Bigg likes this.
  7. lafos

    lafos Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2004
    Sioux Falls, SD
    I saved >$50/mo by getting only limited cable and SlingTV. With that cost savings, I could afford to use the $5/mo Sling DVR option if I needed it. Sling already has quite a bit of on demand content, so I haven't felt the need. My TiVos still handle my local recording needs, but I don't see the need to upgrade from my 8-year-old Premieres.
  8. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    I admire the pluck and spirit of the OP's plan but, sadly, it's just not realistic. As others above have stated, there aren't enough retail TiVo users nationwide to really matter.

    Let's put some actual numbers on it. The National Cable Television Association (an industry trade/lobbying group) reported in Apr. 2016 that the nine largest cable TV operators in the US between them only had 621,400 CableCARDs deployed for use in retail devices (nearly all of which, I imagine were TiVos, along with a smattering of HDHomeRun tuners, etc.). That figure was probably reflective of year-end 2015.

    Here's a list of the largest MVPDs with their TV subscriber counts, probably reflective of year-end 2016. So these figures don't quite match up time-wise with the CableCARD figure, but close enough.

    If we add up the TV sub numbers from the nine largest cable MVPDs (Comcast with 22.5 million down through Atlantic Broadband with 246,000), we come up with a total of 49.67 million cable TV subscribers.

    So that means, among that group of pay TV subscribers -- which represents virtually all of the potential CableCARD-using public (a few million FiOS TV users are the only significant omission) -- only 1.25% use a TiVo or other retail CableCARD device.

    Perhaps that figure has wavered a bit one way or the other since then, but not significantly, I'm sure.

    To put 1.25% of a cable TV's subscriber base in perspective, one leading industry research group says that the top pay TV providers lost 0.8% of their subs in 2016, followed by 1.6% in 2017. Another one said that subs were down a whopping 3.7% in 2017. If cable MVPDs lost an additional 1.25% of subs due to every single TiVo owner walking away, yes, it would hurt some but they're already dealing with those kinds of defections anyhow. And of course, not every CableCARD user will walk away if/when their particular cable company stops supporting their retail devices. Many will just switch to the cable company's own boxes.
    aaronwt likes this.
  9. johnfasc

    johnfasc Active Member

    Dec 24, 2014
    Yes, those user numbers are staggering but you will know when the cable companies cannot afford to lose any more customers. Litterally millions have actually cut the cable as I have and will never go back to cable unless something drastic happens. But remember cable companies control the internet also. And that is something you cannot just pick and choose. You may have two choices but most of the time there is no choice. We have one, Spectrum. As the cable companies keep losing subscriber's they will jack up the internet pricing until the FTC has to step in. As demand gets higher for streaming then prices will rise, unless of coures you bundle in their tv programing. It's really a no win situation for consumers. And then there's good ol net neutrality...or not!
  10. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2015
    Well, I think this is already happening. Maybe I'm wrong but my hunch (recollection?) is that the average price of cable broadband service has increased faster than the general rate of inflation over the past several years. So while cable companies are making less on TV service due to dwindling subscribers, they're making up for it on broadband. Comcast's CEO even recently described broadband as being "the epicenter" of their consumer relationships. In other words, "We're really a broadband company/network provider. These other service lines -- TV, home phone, and now mobile -- are ancillary."

    Hopefully the advent of 5G, more fiber rollout from AT&T and other telcos, plus low earth orbit satellite internet (SpaceX, etc.) will mean more broadband choices for more Americans, creating more competition and better pricing. But if that doesn't happen (and maybe even if it does), I think there will be increasing calls from the public for the government to step in and regulate.
  11. tenthplanet

    tenthplanet Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Cheap broadband is a pipe dream, competition means price wars, price wars kills profits. Ultimately stock holders of corporations will call the shots. Most of so called choices we'll see are expensive to implement. Gov't regulation will suck your money away on top of all it. Hardware DVR's will history in 10 to 12yrs.
  12. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

    Oct 30, 2003
    The concept that TiVo users have any control over pay tv providers is delusional. In fact, pay tv providers are close to a point where they won't care about TV subscribers numbers anymore, as they barely make any money off of most TV subscribers due to the cost of programming increasing at several times the rate of inflation for the past 5-10 years. Broadband is their cash cow, and then they stop faking the sub numbers for Wall Street, they will stop caring about TV subs at all and just care about profitability, which is all about broadband. Comcast doesn't really care about TV anymore, they took a huge amount of system bandwidth away from TV, compressed the living crap out of their MPEG-4 channels until they were totally unwatchable, and then gave all that capacity to broadband, as they believe that up-selling faster broadband packages is more profitable than running a good cable TV system.

    I think retail TiVo users are gone from cable when cable goes to IP, but it doesn't matter. Cable doesn't care if they leave. Many will leave before IP just due to the cost sturcture of cable tv being totally out of control. Some will go to DirecTV, others to vMVPDs.

    The numbers are actually worse than the 3.66 million subs lost, as the past few years have seen 750k new housing starts, with 250k being abandoned, town down or otherwise eliminated (houses turned back into single family, old apartment builds re-developed into fewer units in up markets), for a net add of 500k new households, so the real loss is closer to 4M if you assume that about 75% of new households should, in theory, be getting pay tv, but they either aren't, or that many more other customers are cutting the cord, and they're hiding the numbers.

    When Comcast finally decides that profitability is more important than cooking the books on sub numbers for Wall Street, there's another 1-3M subs gone, possibly even more, and the same is true for Verizon and a few other MSOs that are extremely aggressive with bundling.

    Depends on the area. Here, cable HSI has gone from $57/mo in 2003 to $75/mo in 2017, which is actually close to inflation, but it started out so absurdly overpriced that it's stayed that way with inflation.
  13. mattyro7878

    mattyro7878 Well-Known Member

    Nov 27, 2014
    Southern CT
    Can we at least agree Tivo users have larger packages (!) And include broadband in their packages? We are enthusiastic about tv, once we are paired and tuner adapted we are self sustaining. We will never require a truck roll cuz the power went out and the tv "now says three". (Happened a lot at Cablevision) , plus nobody has the original TV remote so you end up having an 88yr old try to find the input button physically on his tv. Plus... nobody's talking about the massive number of cablecard TV's. There are at least 2000 of those in existence!. I also remember a few lg TV's with a built in DVR. Cool
  14. Win Joy Jr

    Win Joy Jr Well-Known Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Not sure if you are being entirely serious...

    Not always. In my home we only have the Limited Basic tier (basically locals) plus broadband provided by Comcast.

    Tired of large DirecTV bills (coupled with kids heading off to college) I dropped DirecTV 2 years ago and got my TiVo Bolt. It's a 4 tuner model which means I can drop the TV service from Comcast and go antenna if I want.

    Again, not always. I have had 2 truck rolls over the bast 2 years, each due to signal quality issues causing dropouts on a specific channel regardless of tuner used. On each truck roll I knew more about CableCards then the tech did. Neither of them had even seen a TiVo Bolt before, nor any other TiVo. THAT should tell you about the market penetration of TiVo.

    TiVo must evolve in the changing paid TV service ecosphere. They have started with the introduction of the Bolt as a one stop shop for Cable (or OTA) and streaming. But they are falling behind the competition by not offering all options (Um, TiVo, get off the stick and offer CBS All Access then I can retire my AppleTV).
  15. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    That would be so nice. But I get a truck tool every year or so since, in my backwoods area, all cables and drops are outside. There is nothing protected from the weather or wildlife. Also, if TiVo was so "plug and play" this would be a very quiet forum. Don't get me wrong, I'm enthusiastic too. I know what my cable feed offers and TiVo beats them in every area except one. If I use their stuff and it breaks, I just call.

    My cable feed will start using TiVo/Hydra/DOCSIS 3.1 this summer. They are very good with cable cards.

    We really need a doom and gloom forum. :(
  16. jlanzy

    jlanzy New Member

    Sep 16, 2007
    Alrighty then, a bit confused about the discussed changes but someone shed some light for me, I use Tivo only for recording shows and watching later, have 3 Roamios and a Premier Plus with about 8 TB of stored cable ( Fios) programs that I will eventually watch if I don't die first. I would love 4K cable programs with HDR , much as I do Netflix 4K HDR via an app from my UHD Bluray player. With the future plan to change to IP will there still be a way, Tivo or another box or cloud storage that wouldn't be prohibitively costly, to record and store cable programs, hopefully 4K/UHD and HDR, as we do now on our HD Tivos? My concern is that I have about 8TB of HD stored, that would be considerably more if it were all in UHD.
  17. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

    Apr 17, 2000
    Unless the FCC steps in, or cable companies come up with a standard out of the goodness of their hearts (yeah right), no 3rd party device will be able to record once they switch to IP. Which means your only option for recording will be a rented box or a cloud DVR accessed via a streaming app.
  18. jlanzy

    jlanzy New Member

    Sep 16, 2007
    Here's hope that FCC does step in, because neither mentioned options are desirable, especially with how well Tivo does it now.
  19. tenthplanet

    tenthplanet Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Let's hope the FCC doesn't mess it up.
  20. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

    Apr 17, 2000
    The FCC isn't likely to do anything. Even under the last administration the liberal leaning FCC caved to cable interests and said that apps were good enough to satisfy the 1996 telecommunications act. Under the current administration it's even less likely to change.

    And even if the administration changes in 2020 and the new FCC decides to impose some sort of standard it could take a decade, or more, for it to be realized. (that's how long it took them to actually deploy CableCARD after the 1996 law was passed) By then TiVo will be long gone.
    aaronwt, Bigg and dlfl like this.

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