TiVo HD Lifetime Transfer Arrives

Dave Zatz —  October 11, 2007 — 47 Comments

In time for the holidays (yet prior to the real shopping season), TiVo pulls the trigger on a promotion many folks have been eagerly awaiting: Transfer Lifetime Service onto a TiVo HD… for $199. At the end of the day it may not be a bargain but, if you plan on holding onto the THD for some time, you’ll come out ahead (though SDV issues loom). The fine print:

  • Offer permits the transfer of an eligible (as defined below) Product Lifetime Subscription for $199 plus applicable taxes only to a new TiVo® HD DVR purchased from www.tivo.com/HDservicetransfer between October 11, 2007 to November 8, 2007 (a “Qualifying DVR”)
  • Product Lifetime Subscriptions eligible to be transferred to a Qualifying DVR pursuant to this Offer must be (1) activated prior to October 1, 2003 and (2) not have been previously transferred pursuant to any prior transfer offer from TiVo.

Given the activation date requirement, I’m not sure how many people this really applies to. But the lucky ones also get a year of service on their old TiVo rolled into that $199 fee. Before TiVo drops the MSRP on the TiVo HD ($299), perhaps they’ll reach out to the larger number of Series2 Lifetime owners with a similar offer. But don’t expect it during the brisk holiday shopping season.

(Thanks for the email forward, Tim!)

47 responses to TiVo HD Lifetime Transfer Arrives

  1. I suspect TiVoToGo and Multi-Room Viewing on the Series3 & TiVo HD will be announced/activated shortly after the November 8th promotion deadline… ;)

  2. the above mentions the cost as “($199-$299 + $199), but it’s worth pointing out that this might be misleading.

    the terms and conditions of this offer specify that the unit must be purchased from tivo directly, though, so the price really is ($299 + $199).

  3. leibniz, I was referring to the person’s original Lifetime Service payment ($199-$299 – I don’t recall when they raised the rate) plus the $199 transfer fee. (The $299 hardware fee is reasonable.) I’ll clarify the post.

  4. Well the older of our two TiVos would qualified for this as it was activated in March 03 but of course I can’t take advantage of it because the HD is just a less expensive paperweight than the Series3 for a satellite customer like me.

    My parents OTOH do have cable and I think their oldest TiVo (of 3) was activated prior to the cutoff but it’s a Sony SVR-3000, not sure if that would qualify.

  5. As it happens, it’s [ttg/mrv] unofficially officially been announced here: http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=365225
    “TiVoPony” is a TiVo employee

  6. Funny, I think back and I had Tivo before that requirement date, but didn’t take them up on the “life time” one-time flat fee of $200 then.

    But if I had, and if I am reading this correctly, I would have been stuck with the same series 1 box all these years and only now getting the opportunity to go HD on my $200 “life time” subscription?

    No wonder I switched to Myth TV.

  7. This pays for itself in 16.6 Months based on paying monthly with the multiple tivo discount ($6.95 still, right?).

    ($199-($6.95*12))/$6.95

    Of course, this assumes you won’t continue to use the S2 after the year service you get. Otherwise there’s no difference between paying the $6.95 for the HDTiVo or the paying it for the S2 TiVo until you pass the usefull life of a S2.

  8. Great. This was the promotion I was waiting for, but I activated Nov. 22, 2003. As the URL says, Zat’s Not Funny!

  9. Ah crap – I think I didn’t switch to lifetime on my TiVo until after their cutoff date. I’ll have to go check that out. Bogus.

  10. So basically its not transferring your lifetime as much as its buying a lifetime for the HD Tivo.
    If you were “transferring” a lifetime then why have to pay for it again. How hard is it to transfer the account? Not $200 worth of effort.
    I’d buy the HD IF I could transfer my lifetime from my Series I. But wouldnt buy the HD for $500. ($299+$199).

  11. john s,

    the “lifetime” offers have ALWAYS been limited to the lifetime of the particular unit, not the purchaser. it’s a transfer because your current lifetime will get transferred to the new HD unit (not usually allowed), and you’ll get one free year with the old DVR (after which you’ll have to pony up to keep service for it).

  12. Derek,
    I don’t follow your math…
    Isn’t it $199/6.95=28.63 months, or a little under 2 1/2 years?

  13. I got an S2 for parents 2 years ago with a lifetime sub. then (I think just before the discontinued offering it to new subscribers).

    So unfortunately I won’t be able to upgrade them to a TiVo HD w/ a lifetime sub. (I hate buying presents for people where they have to pay to use it).

    Would be nice giving them 2 tuners, now that my Mum has finally gotten used to using a TiVo :-)

  14. Once they come out with my idea of the ultimate DVR (npi), then I’ll happily pay to transfer my two pre-’03 lifetime subs to the dreambox (must be satellite capable, at least with the signal from an external converter box). Til then, my HR-20 gets installed 10/24…and we move on from there (Tivos still rock the house with 4 running)

  15. Leib – I understand about the lifetime transfer but correct me if I am wrong – you dont have the option of not paying the 199 or do you?
    My Sony/Tivo has Lifetime on it and I would love to take advantage of this but not for $500. (299 + 199). I think the 299 is reasonable but to tack a Xfer fee on top doesnt cut it.

  16. john s,

    well, you could certainly not pay the $199 and not transfer your lifetime service.

    in that case, your sony/tivo unit would continue to have it’s lifetime service (for the life of that unit), and you would have to pay the monthly subscription fee for the new HD unit (or use it without service, which is pretty crippled).

    i’m not saying it’s a great deal – it’s definitely steep – but it is currently the ONLY way to get lifetime service for a newly purchased unit. so, i guess it is what it is…

    i myself probably won’t be taking advantage of this offer either – but if i had $500 of expendible cash laying around i probably would. ;)

    best!

  17. My thoughts are this:

    At $6.95/month (multiple Tivo Discount), it would take a little less than 3 years for this lifetime deal to pay for itself. My math:
    Cost for lifetime transfer: $199
    Cost difference in buying TivoHD from Tivo instead of Amazon: $50

    $199 + $50 = $249/6.95= 35.83 months

    With the speed of new technology, I’m going to assume that there will be better equipment in three years, and not the same lag time from S2 to S3/HD Tivos.

    In other words, I’ll pass.

  18. Dave,

    Next time you talk with Mike Ramsay, ask him why he’s actively dismissing my business. I have lifetime activated after Oct 2003; apparently my business isn’t as important as those who activated prior to this arbitrary date.

    Before this stunt Tivo was neck-in-neck with Media Center…

  19. Larry don’t feel bad TiVo has made it abundantly clear that they aren’t interested in my business (or business of the other 1/4 to 1/3 of the pay TV subscribers who have Satellite.

  20. Larry, I think you mean Tom Rogers (who I’ve only had two 60 second conversations with). Ramsay’s gone. But I understand your point – where did that October 2003 date come from? Either offer it to everyone, or just don’t offer it. Like I said above, I’m hopeful they’ll open this up after the holidays.

    Robert, Do you have DirecTV or Dish? I’ve heard speculation that the DirecTV/TiVo relationship could be reigniting.

  21. I currently have a Pioneer S2/DVD recorder with lifetime. I have been anticipating buying an HD unit once it gets the external drive and networking going, having it take the place of the Pioneer in the family room, and bringing the Pioneer into the bedroom (where there is no Tivo).

    I was hoping for a reason to transfer the lifetime to the newer unit, but this doesn’t seem like the opportunity. I’d pay $50 extra for the unit, $199 for the transfer, and get a free year where I wouldn’t have to spend $6.95/month or $83 (less for its Net Present Value), and then pay the same $6.95 thereafter. That makes this offer cost $166 and all I get is having the lifetime on this unit instead of that one. It’s hard to quantify what that’s worth, but it’s much less than $166.

    This offer is only worthwhile for owners replacing on old lifetime unit with a new HD unit. Not those like me who are expanding their Tivo population.

  22. The October 2003 days is not at all arbitrary. Lifetime subscriptions are amortized over a four year period. Anything activated after October 2003 is still on the box as an active, revenue bearing subscription. Anything earlier is a zero revenue sub, fully amortized. That’s a real difference on the books, which is why they’re not allowing subs still on the books as revenue to be transferred.

  23. Er, ‘date’, not ‘days’. I’m out of it today – even forgot to shave this morning. :-)

    And Robert, how many times do we need to explain the satellite business and why TiVo *cannot* offer an HD unit for that market? TiVo has stated, repeatedly, that they *want* to offer HD satellite DVRs and they’re keenly interested in doing so, but both Dish Network and DirecTV have locked them (and all other 3rd parties) out. There is some hope that relations with DTV will thaw with Liberty Media taking over, that’s about it.

    Even if EchoStar loses their appeal, and I think they will, I bet they don’t switch to TiVo-based units – they’ll just license the patents directly and still sell their own box.

  24. Mega, thanks for the explanation of of the date. Makes sense from a financial perspective, but I guess it’s probably no consolation to more recent S2 Lifetimers.

  25. Something Dan may want to consider: the age of your Pioneer/DVD unit. Although TiVo’s are fairly robust, the hard drives do age. Once your lifetime unit dies, so does the lifetime sub.

    If you do expand your TiVo collection, would you buy another S2 unit? I realize they almost give those away now. But with the migration to digital TV, does it really make any sense to buy anyhting Standard Def?

  26. D’oh! I bought my S2 on 10/4/03. Figures.

  27. Hmm… I’ve got a lifetime sub from 2001, but it was originally on a Sony branded unit which died and I switched to an S2. I suppose, even though that switch was a while ago, I’d be out of luck due to the ‘not previously transferred’ clause. Might be worth reading the small print or calling a CSR though.

  28. Tom,

    You can repair most problems with a TiVo and keep the lifetime going – the drive is the simplest to repair. The main board is about the only thing the user can’t repair – drive, fan, power supply, all repairable/replaceable.

    If the main board dies you need to pay for an out-of-warranty repair from TiVo to keep the lifetime.

    As for buying a unit today – personally I would not buy an S2 or S2DT today. I’ve gone HD. But if you live in a rural area with analog cable, etc, the S2DT is not a bad value. I wouldn’t buy a plain S2 anymore, the S2DT is too cheap and is just better. It isn’t worth going to the S2.

  29. Mega, You are correct in fact I have a Sony/Tivo DVR and was told Sony would have to repair any problems and if they cant fix it Tivo will replace the unit and transfer my LifeTime at no cost.
    That came from the Tivo rep… (hope they were right!)

  30. No love for S1 owners with lifetime service!

  31. Kinda wish I had gotten the lifetime when I had the chance. Oh well.

  32. Dave I have Dish now and am very happy with it, I “might” consider switching to DirecTV, it’s more expensive than Dish but a lot less expensive than Cable, and DirecTV is a few notches below TWC on the “Evil” scale now that they are no longer owned by NewsCorp.

    Megazone you can continue to tell me that TiVo *cannot* offer a HD TiVo for a satellite subscriber like me as many times as you like but I simply don’t believe it. The technology exists today to make a Stand Alone HD capable DVR using component input it’s just that nobody has bothered yet because there is lower lying fruit around. Sure the hardware components would cost more to do the A/D conversion but I’m guessing that would be partially or completely offset by the elimination of CableLabs licensing costs.

    Also the fact TiVo has not been aggressively trying to Lobby the FCC or congress to impose a CableCARD-like standard on the satellite companies tells me that any expressed desire by TiVo to have people like me as a customer is little more than lip service.

    As for the Dish/TiVo litigation, you may be right, Charlie is a stubborn SOB, I can totally see him doing something like that just to spite TiVo but hopefully that won’t be the case though.

  33. The technology exists today to make a Stand Alone HD capable DVR using component input it’s just that nobody has bothered yet because there is lower lying fruit around. Sure the hardware components would cost more to do the A/D conversion but I’m guessing that would be partially or completely offset by the elimination of CableLabs licensing costs.

    Yah, but how big a market do you think there is? How many people want a two-box satellite HD setup? My guess is, not enough to justify the R&D expenses.

  34. Fair enough but that’s not the line that TiVo uses, they claim to be powerless to do anything about it. In any case I think the market is there, we aren’t talking 5% or 10% we are talking 25% to 33% depending on which statistic you believe.

    It’s also annoying that they keep sending me offers to “upgrade” to something they ought to know I’m unable to use. Were I completely ignorant of the limitations (which it’s safe to assume a whole lot of TiVo’s customers are) I might try to take advantage of this offer and then I’d be royally screwed.

  35. Not sure how good a deal this is. If I keep my SA2 and pay the $7 it comes to 28 (or so) months to break even. And I get to keep my SA2 forever.

    Also buying it directly from Tivo is not the best deal.

    Anyway I did my Life-Time in 2005 so I am screwed.

  36. Tom, I’ve replaced my slowly failing hard drive 4 months ago, and increased its capacity from 80 to 500 gig. Within reason, I’d spend what it takes on hardware to keep the lifetime going, as long as the Tivo service is useful to me.

    Any new Tivo I buy will definitely be an HD version. We currently use the S2 Tivo to copy HD content for widescreen SD playback. Sure it’s not HD, but it’s a pretty good picture. I wouldn’t spend anything today that wasn’t for HD, but its not necessary either (yet) to toss out my S2 to have 2 HD units.

  37. Just wanted to mention that I called Tivo tonight to find out if I would qualify for $199 lifetime subscription transfer AND…I purchased my unit in August 2003 but didn’t activate lifetime service until October 23, 2003, and they STILL are willing to grandfather me in on this offer. So the moral here is, if your purchase date was prior to the 10/1/03 date and lifetimesubscription activiation occurred AROUND said date, I would check with them before you assume that you’re ineligible for the offer. On a side note, much as I love Tivo, having to pay again for a lifetime subscription is pretty low on their part.

  38. ackurv – This offer is open to S1 owners.

  39. Re: My math earlier. I was subtracting the cost of 1 year of service on the series 2. Like I said, it assumes you have use for the S2 for 1 year and no longer. However, I was not adding in the $50 extra it costs you to buy direct from TiVo (over Amazon).

  40. I have the older series 1 Tivo with the lifetime subscription and am fine with not having the HD Tivo, however, my phone service is insisting that I switch to a digital phone line. My Tivo only seems to be able to download from an analog phone line. Is this correct or is there a way to use a digital phone line with the old Tivo?

  41. Traci, what do you mean by digital? As in a VoIP line or like the lines you find in many business offices? If you switch to VoIP, it’s likely that you’ll be able to connect – though you may need to run the phone line directly into the VoIP router, which could be messy. In the past, I’ve successfully used Vonage with some dialup boxes (like TiVo and Moviebeam)…

  42. Actually, if you have a modem work over VOIP you’re lucky. Most of the time modems and VOIP just don’t get along – unless your VOIP provider offers service that specifically works with modems, or FAX machines (which use modems), and that usually costs more if it is available at all.

    The issue is spectrum. An old fashioned POTS line allows for quite a broad spectrum of frequencies, which modems take full advantage of. But VOIP is optimized for the human voice, which is actually quite a narrow frequency band. To reduce bandwidth requirements the first thing a VOIP codec does is drop all signals above and below a certain range. Then it digitally compresses the remaining signal and that’s all that is sent into the network.

    Unfortunately, the data it throws away is rather important to the modem connection. Best case is that the modem manages to negotiate a slow connection by using just the reduced signaling spectrum, worst case (and very common) is that it can’t negotiate a solid connection at all.

    Even if you manage to get a modem connection over VOIP, all it takes is a firmware upgrade from your VOIP provider and it can stop working – and that’s happened to many people. They do something to ‘optimize’ the service to improve voice quality, and that means playing with the sampling and compression.

    It may work, but it usually doesn’t. And if it does work, it could stop working at any time.

    The best thing to do is ask your provider if their VOIP service *explicitly* supports modems. If not, don’t rely on it.

  43. Actually, I wasn’t referring to VOIP, just a basic digital phone line. When my dad switched from an analog phone line to a digital phone line so that he could subscribe to dsl he was no longer able to dial up Tivo to download the tv schedule. We tried everything for days to get it to work for him. Talked to customer service for hours and mever did find out what went wrong. We brought his Tivo back to try at our home to see if it would work with our analog phone line and it works fine. However, our phone company wants us to switch to an all-digital plan and I’m afraid that the Tivo will no longer be able to dial-up the tv schedule. Since we have the lifetime subscription on it, we don’t want to risk not being able to use it. I just assumed the the series 1 Tivo could only be used on the older analog phone lines, not the more current digital lines. If that isn’t the case, is there a reason that anyone knows of why the Tivo would not work once his phone service was switched?

  44. Traci – Who is your phone provider? In the US ‘digital phone line’ is almost *always* market speak for ‘VOIP’. There are the obvious VOIP companies like Vonage, but if you get phone service from a cable company – that’s VOIP under the covers. Some of the telcos are using VOIP technology too, because it is cheaper to backhaul voip than a dedicated copper pair.

    If you can still use the normal phones you have, and they still call it digital phone service – it is likely VOIP. They’ll either install the interface box in the service box on your house, or it could be in a local junction.

    But, in any case, the odds are, VOIP or not, your S1 will NOT be able to continue to call home. Modems really do not get along well with any form of digital voice lines, unless the service is explicitly designed to support them. So, again, the best thing you can do is ask your service provider if their digital service supports modems. They may have something on their website about it.

    Modems’ says are numbered in the US as more and more of the US phone network goes digital. Someday you may not be able to get any service that supports a classic modem.

  45. One more thing, we did have DSL filters on the phone line. That seems to be a very common problem that people have. We did have filters in place and still no luck.

  46. Ah, you have DSL. Yeah, your provider is almost certainly looking to move you to VOIP. They could drop the voice termination on your line and run VOIP over the DSL right into the DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Module) in the CO (central office). It’d make their life easier, which is why they’re pitching it.

  47. I agree with the others in this post. We NEED support for HD and satellite!!! There’s NO excuse for TiVo not to provide a solution, instead we’re left hanging out in the wind. This is so upsetting as a ‘customer’. I guess they don’t need the money. They’re bound to be losing 30%+ of the market!
    Ashame they don’t realize this.

    So, we have to go with DirectTV or use Dish’s DVR (crap)……

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