The problem I still see them having is cost: I pay $17/month to rent the DVR from FiOS, and while it's a terrible interface, TiVO wants $15/month plus another $4/month from Verizon for a CableCARD. When you factor in the price of the hardware itself, it's pretty obscene in a day-and-age of more folks cutting the cord and going streaming only. I'm sorry, but $15/month just for EPG in the states is ridiculous, considering I get it free with OTA channels and Windows Media Center if I were to roll my own. Then you lump in the $8/month for Hulu Plus/Netflix, with their large streaming libraries...
TiVO, you've really got to come down off that price tag. $15 is too steep now that fewer cable companies let you buy the CableCARD outright, and that "lifetime subscription" at $500? Hogwash, that'll let me build a brand-new, custom-specced HTPC from scratch. Then if I want to add a TiVO Mini, it's an additional $6/month for that little bugger (or $150 up front for lifetime). I did a cost analysis below, to show just how badly TiVo compares to the local FiOS offerings for equipment:
DVR - $16/month
Multi-Room DVR - $20/month
Set-Top Box - $12/month
CableCARD - $5/month
Roamio 4-tuner - $200 up front
Roamio 6-tuner - $400 up front
Service - $15/month + CableCARD
TiVo Mini - $150 up front
Mini Service - $6/month
1 Room: $16/month FiOS, $20/month TiVo w/ CableCARD + $200 up front cost (No break-even date; lifetime break-even date of 63 months
2 Room: $32/month FiOS, $26/month + $350 up front cost (Break-even of 59 months
- It's worth noting that at this point, we need a 2nd Multi-Room DVR from Verizon to record an additional 2 shows at once, and the prices reflect this. Around now, TiVo begins pulling ahead for TV-hungry households
3 Room: $52/month FiOS, $32/month + $500 up front cost (Break-even of 42 months
4 Room: $64/month FiOS, $38/month + $650 up front cost (Break-even of 25 months
- We need to add a third Multi-Room DVR here. No contest at this point onward, but let's scale up to a Living Room, Theater, Parents, and two/three kids...
5 Room: $84/month FiOS, $44/month + $1000 up front cost ($400 Roamio, + 4 Minis; Break-even of 22 months
6 Room: $96/month FiOS, $50/month + $1150 up front cost (Break-even of 25 months
At the end of the day, a TiVo really only makes financial sense for four-room deployments or more, as the gear pays for itself (despite subscriptions) within two years, give or take a month or two, which is still a year longer than the parts warranty for these devices (the weak point being the hard disk, which WILL fail eventually). When the Hard Disk or DVR itself breaks from the cable company, you can swap it out free of charge (so long as it's not due to your error). The problem is that as more and more people switch to streaming, it'll be harder to justify the expense of a TiVo unit in all but the die hard TV households. Their main stumbling block is the 1-3 room user household, where it'll take about as long to pay off your TiVo gear as it will to pay off a car loan, and where we're (myself included) looking for a way to STOP paying $16/month to a cable company for such a terrible DVR, but simply can't justify the price premium the TiVo demands (the standard month-to-month plan has no break-even date for a single room!).
TiVo is on to something with the Mini subscriptions, but I'd like to see the subscription rate reduced to $10 or even $8/month. The Minis are all profit anyway, since they feed off the central DVR (which requires a more expensive subscription, even with multi-device discount), so why not do away with the multi-device discount and charge a straight $8/DVR, $6/Mini fee. Seems like it'd be a great way to rope in new customers.