‘Tis the season… for great gadget discounts. And TiVo intends to goose holiday sales by providing three months of free service to new TiVo Premiere DVR customers. This works out to a savings of $45 for new customers, or $39 if adding an additional unit to your account. However, should you choose to partake, it does require a one year commitment. Assuming TiVo has new DVR hardware in development and you wouldn’t hang on long enough for Lifetime service to be beneficial, by going with the base Premiere this works out to roughly $22/month over a one year period — about the same as what your cable company will charge for an inferior set-top box. Then again, it’s generally no muss, no fuss. Compared to the sometimes flakey CableCARD and SDV integration you might find on your hands with TiVo.
In other service plan news, rumor has it TiVo is contemplating renaming “Lifetime” — presumably due to a subset of customers that have found themselves surprised and disappointed that it can’t (generally) be transferred to new units, rather than TiVo rebranding to more easily pull the plug after a given number of years… as they did in the UK. TiVo retail subscriber numbers continue to drop, having peaked in 2008. So given their large cash warchest and licensing successes, perhaps it’s time to revisit lower service fees and the Xbox Live model (as I’ve suggested a number of times over the years). Rebuild the base and bank on the halo effect while expanding those analytics initiatives and hitting us with more ads to recoup the cost. So, like Microsoft, how about $60/year for TiVo service with an alternate option of something like $7.99 month (which Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon have settled on as palatable fees).