TiVo Seeks to Prove Why It Still Matters

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

17 responses to TiVo Seeks to Prove Why It Still Matters

  1. 2014: “As a company, TiVo has been a little better on the technology side than they have on the marketing,” Mr. Bahr said.

    2005: “As a company, Anders VCR Service and Repair has been a bit better on the service side than on the marketing,” Mr. Anders said.

    These people don’t get it. Marketing is not the problem. They’re servicing dying markets, and doing so non-competitively.

    Also, TiVo’s technology was amazing in 1999, but not so much today. It still offers a better experience than most cable company STBs, but not _dramatically_ so.

  2. “It still offers a better experience than most cable company STBs, but not _dramatically_ so.”

    Depends on what you consider ‘dramatic’ in terms of UX.

    You’d still have to pry my TiVo out of my cold dead hands before my corpse would willingly replace it with any CableCo DVR I’ve ever heard of…

  3. I dunno. Modern cable and satellite STBs have come a long way. They’re ad-infested, but so is TiVo.

  4. “Depends on what you consider ‘dramatic’ in terms of UX.”

    I have to agree with Rodalpho. There are three different DVRs I use on a regular basis, in addition to my TiVos, and TiVo is dramatically superior to one of them — the Scientific Atlanta 8300 running SARA. The DCT6412 running i-Guide was a years long suckathon, but a couple of years ago Time-Warner finally got the right firmware and software at my location and it is now very nice. It even has a rudimentary version of the wishlist, which has long been my favorite TiVo feature. At my third location, I have FIOS. The Verizon version of the Motorola box is pretty much everything you could want. The Web interface is far superior to TiVo, the latest version of the software makes the “Whole Home” interface work just the way you would want it to, and everything about the scheduling and playback works just as well as TiVo. My only complaints are the wishlist issue and some idiosyncratic behavior regarding remote playback and clipping in overlap situations.

  5. Yeah, the SA8300 is a great example of what TiVo _used_ to be compared to. Cable company STBs have come a long way since then.

  6. “Depends on what you consider ‘dramatic’ in terms of UX.”

    I’m not saying that the better MSO DVR’s aren’t ‘good enough’ these days.

    But if I can refer to a prehistoric example, Tivo : better MSO DVR’s :: Apple OS 7 : Windows 3.1.

    (With the important difference from the above example in that TiVo is competitive or cheaper than the better MSO DVR’s. In fact, one can usually generalize that a discerning user will find better value for the dollar with TiVo.)

    So why go with the better MSO DVR’s unless you’re nescient?

    Also, living in a metro area with multiple MSO’s available to me, I appreciate having hardware that gives me freedom to change my wireline provider at will. More painless choice, and more bargaining power.

  7. “I’m not saying that the better MSO DVR’s aren’t ‘good enough’ these days.”

    Between this, and bringing the value proposition into it, I think you are backpedaling a bit here. As much as my cable companies have been jacking up their DVR prices, they are managing to make TiVo look good in terms of price, but that wasn’t the question. And two of my three cableco DVRs are more than “good enough.” The latest i-Guide software is more than good enough, plus it provides easy access to a very robust selection of on demand content. The FIOS software is arguably BETTER than TiVo, even before you consider on demand access and the web interface. Let’s put it this way: at my FIOS location, I have 3 Verizon DVRs and two TiVos. The TiVos only get used in two situations. 1. They are chugging away in the background monitoring wishlists. 2. I will occasionally schedule something to record on one of them when I intend to archive it to my computer using the desktop software. In every other situation, I just use the Verizon DVRs.

  8. I think the statement:

    “As a company, TiVo has been a little better on the technology side than they have on the marketing,” Mr. Bahr said.”

    would make for a really interesting debate. Given that they are clearly pretty poor at both, which do you think they are better at really?

    Anyway, the guy’s years at Dish might be a good sign. Certainly the Dish hopper is an interesting product and got a decent marketing push.

  9. Michael Burstin April 9, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Tivo is infinitely better if you are anywhere in Comcast land, stuck with iGuide or whatever the monstrosity is that runs on their DVRs is called. They are starting to offer their X1 platform but everything I’ve read makes it sound like it also misses recordings, probably not quite as often as iGuide but still not exactly solid. Maybe its gotten better.

    I may try to get one for my spare room but they still require a truck roll to get one (I think because the install a MoCa filter). I think they also charge a premium unless you are a on a top-tier triple play package.

    They also claim its got a big hard drive – a whole massive 500GB drive, so competitive with lowest capacity Roamio…

  10. “Between this, and bringing the value proposition into it, I think you are backpedaling a bit here.”

    Not really. I’m picky about my UX, and generally see dramatic differences between ‘good’ and ‘good enough’.

    “The FIOS software is arguably BETTER than TiVo, even before you consider on demand access and the web interface.”

    You definitely stand against the consensus on this point. (Given the videos I’ve seen of the new FIOS DVR in action, I stand firmly with the consensus.) And that’s before we get into important to me issues like hard drive capacity, remote UX, etc.

    I’m glad you enjoy your FIOS DVR, but again, I think we’re in a situation of Tivo : better MSO DVR’s :: Mac OS 7 : Windows 3.1. Many folks found Windows 3.1 ‘good enough’, but very few sane people deliberately chose it other than for price or work reasons.

    (If CableCo On Demand is absolutely vital to you, I can start to see your viewpoint. But that’s much further down on my list than other facets of the DVR experience.)

  11. Until TiVO creates a box that replaces my WDTV/AppleTV/Amazon Fire, ie plays local self-made content, as well as doing the things TiVO already does, I can’t imagine I will ever buy another TiVo machine. I’m still mad that my Premiere never seems like a finished device, and based on one commenter on the link, they still haven’t finished Roamio.

  12. I wouldn’t call the FIOS STB better than TiVo, no. TiVo still has a superior UX. If you want the *best* interface for cable TV, you want to purchase a TiVo.

    But like I said earlier with my reference to VCR repair shops, cable TV is less relevant every year. Nobody <30 pays for cable TV. I'm <40, and I'm about to cut the cord myself. I already pay for netflix and amazon instant, and the $80/month I'll save will probably go to buying recently aired shows on amazon. (I refuse to pay for Hulu+ as long as it has advertisements.) The remainder, I'll just use my parents' Xfinity login and my brother's HBO GO account and, you know, torrents.

    @Glenn: Yeah, that statement tickled me too. TiVo's technology sucks, and their marketing is even worse. TiVo's never been a technology company. TiVo's strength is the UI and the fact that they never, ever, miss a recording, unlike many cable STBs.

  13. I love my Tivos, but have to agree that with OTT options like Hulu+ & Netflix they have less appeal than before.

    Though they still can be cheaper for even cable subscribers than the cableco DVR (typically $20/month, forever) if bought used ($250-$300 for a TivoHD w/ lifetime).

    I have saved thousands over the last 5 years by going OTA w/ Tivo and just buying any (commercial-free) cable shows I wanted from Amazon.

  14. A retail Tivo isn’t plug and play for cable TV and is completely shut out of the Satellite TV market. The FCC refuses to provide a level playing field for third party set top boxes as the law requires.

  15. Jon the Heretic April 13, 2014 at 10:29 am

    I experimented with cord cutting for a few months when Charter refused to play Promotion Price Bluff with me, for the first time ever, after hearing me scream “I’m outta here!”. In the past, they’ve always caved in after my promotion ran out. This time they gave me a big middle finger and knowing they have a monopoly in my town, made smug comments about why I was lucky to be giving them 30% more for fewer channels than what I had paid the month before.

    In my life of quiet desperation, giving the finger back to rude “we’re the phone company” customer reps is one of the few moments of empowerment I enjoy. I called the bluff and cut the cable. I didn’t want to but even the wife said “screw em”.

    I hooked a Sky HD up in the attic and ran a coax cable down to my lifetimed Tivo Premiere. I added Hulu Plus to my current lineup of Netflix and Amazon Prime. And my 2TB upgraded Tivo has a Honkin’ Big Backlog of Unwatched Shows, too. More content that I could ever watch.

    Here was the downside. I live in rural CT and my HD antenna can’t get CBS at all because of the terrain, and Fox and PBS both suffered whenever it rained in the wrong place (not necessarily near me). I did lose a show or two, but Hulu filled the gap nicely and I discovered a treasure trove of BBC shows that Hulu has exclusive rights to. Misfits! Yeah!

    The cable companies do know what they are doing, however. They out little sugar cubes made of Concentrated Evil Extract in their tea twice a day and it pays off. Even at 2 shows a day, I was dangerously close to Charter’s bandwidth cap of 150gigs at my current tier. Actually, this made me hate them more than ever and determined to get as much as I could off of the antenna. The other problem was that other than the Simpsons and Supernatural and Downtown Abbey, I found I just preferred cable content to free OTA. I love AMC and SHO and HBO and FX. I was willing to wait if I had to, but that bandwidth cap is so damn low! This artificially restriction guarantees I could never replace cable with streaming completely — unless I got a life !

    Since that is simply out of the question, when Charter called and offered me the best promotion I ever saw, I took it. For Now.

    Catching up with my old friends is nice and getting junkied up on the Opiate of the Masses has been a brain drooling joy for me. But despite the limitations, I can pull out the scissors at a moment’s notice and give them a big Snip! should they fail to offer me another killer deal in a few months. Based on their posturing last time, I predict I will be cutting it again next Jan just as Shameless comes back on SHO. Maybe by then, I will mount the Sky on the roof and will be more prepared than ever to say Nyah Nyeh when they choose to cash in on their cable monopoly and bandwidth caps to keep me quietly in line.

  16. “when Charter called and offered me the best promotion I ever saw, I took it. For Now.”

    Did you enquire about trying to lock in that (or some kind of similar) rate in exchange for a longer contract? If you ever repeat this particular song and dance, it’d be worth at least asking.

    But more broadly, you live in the worst of all possible locations. Abusive monopoly wireline provider, and no good OTA reception. My genuine sympathies. I can’t get good OTA reception, but at least I’ve got multiple wireline providers to play off one another to get massive breaks off the rack-rate. (And, yes, bandwidth caps are the true face of the devil.)

    One possible solution for you if you ever want to cut cable again: I know a guy in the UK with a slow ADSL connection, but thus no bandwidth caps. (FWIW, his problem is remote location with no wireline available, not price.) Since there are no retail TiVo’s in the UK, he deals with the issue by slowly downloading Apple VOD to iTunes on a computer, which he then plays via an Apple TV. Here in the US, you could do the same deal via Amazon VOD to your TiVo. Of course, that depends on you having an ADSL provider available in your area, and means you’d be SOL for real-time-only streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, but something to consider…

    “The other problem was that other than the Simpsons and Supernatural and Downtown Abbey, I found I just preferred cable content to free OTA. I love AMC and SHO and HBO and FX.”

    Yeah. As long as I avoid the poorhouse, that my real deal-breaker. I actually really value the content of the multicast. We’re not living in 1973, fergawdsakes.

  17. Michael Burstin April 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    This is the one thing I don’t necessarily understand about “cord cutting” (and not talking directly to you but the practice in general). How is it cutting the cord when paying the same company from Internet access? Yes, its cutting the price for cable, but the base tier usually isn’t too bad (though that obviously doesn’t include SHO, HBO, etc). I guess it would be one thing if you had a good choice for Internet other than the cableco monopoly…

Leave a Reply

*

Text formatting is available via select HTML.

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>