TiVo Targets Cable DVRs With 25% Lower Monthly Fee


TiVo is lopping five bucks off its monthly plans for Premiere DVR customers -- dropping it down to $14.99 -- and is reducing pricing on high-end models, as the company tries to lure customers away from cable operators' DVR offerings.

The company on Sunday, March 25, will start shipping the four-tuner TiVo Premiere Elite, which can record up to four shows and store up to 300 hours of HD content. The 2-Terabyte Elite carries a retail list price of $349.99, which is $150 less than TiVo's previously announced $499.99 list price.

In addition, TiVo is cutting $50 off the price of the two-tuner Premiere XL, with 1 TB of storage for up to 150 hours of HD, to $249.99.

TiVo Elite

Meanwhile, the entry-level Premiere remains $149.99, but TiVo has upgraded it to 500 Gigabytes of storage for up to 75 hours of HD content. Previously the model had 320 GB of storage.

With a one-year contract, the TiVo monthly service fee will be $14.99 per month for Premiere users. That makes it lower than most cable offerings, the company said. For customers with multiple TiVos, the price per box is $12.99 per month.

The pricing changes are intended to get "TiVo-owned" subscribers (those who buy the DVRs at retail) moving in the positive direction after years in decline. For the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2012, TiVo lost 157,000 direct subs.

But at the same time, TiVo risks ratcheting up competition with MSO partners that offer Premiere DVRs to their own subscribers, including Charter Communications and Suddenlink Communications. TiVo's service provider initiative has finally started paying dividends: The rollout of TiVo-based boxes by the U.K.'s Virgin Media offset losses from its legacy DirecTV deal to let TiVo post a net gain of 387,000 subscribers through operators for the year ended Jan. 31.

TiVo also has marketing agreements with Comcast and Cox Communications, which have pledged to provide video-on-demand services to cable subscribers with Premiere DVRs.

For retail customers, TiVo will continue to offer a "lifetime subscription" for $499.99, with a discounted price of $399.99 for customers with multiple DVRs.

For non-Premiere legacy TiVo boxes, monthly fees will not change. Older TiVo DVRs carry a monthly service charge of $12.95 per month (and $9.95 per month for customers with multiple boxes).