back to article TiVo calls time on ageing set-tops

Long-time UK TiVo owners are up in arms because the company is to effectively stop their boxes from working to the full. TiVo has announced that from the start of June, its old PVRs will no longer operate beyond playback of TV programmes that have already been recorded at the point. TiVo insisted that the boxes "may" be able …

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  1. Jon Green
    FAIL

    Of course, that "upgrade" is only any good...

    ...if you're in a Virgin Media coverage area. About 40% of the UK's households are not. For these, the entirely unnecessary withdrawal of TiVO services means they're stuffed.

  2. JM1

    Lifetime means lifetime

    TiVo sold their EPG as a monthly subscription or as a lifetime one off payment. I think anyone who had the lifetime option is entitled to continue to receive EPG, or be compensated. TiVo should at least refund that payment if it is not going to fulfill the service obligation.

    1. mafoo
      Unhappy

      legally...

      Sadly there is no legal definition of 'lifetime'.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Lifetime

        In the case of TiVo it meant for the life of the machine. i.e. As long as it still works.

        AFAIK, the sub was linked to the motherboard ID, so you should be good until that fails. My old machine is still running happily and for all I know it might run for another 10+ years, so this is a bit of a bummer, but might also be breach of contract.

        That said, my machine is now fitted with a network connection and gets it's listings from the internet and it looks like the new machines may well be doing the same - so it *might* keep working.

        If not, then it will be a shame to see the old chap be sidelined, end of the proverbial era.

  3. Photog

    TiVO sold LIFETIME EPG subscription services

    Many TiVO users paid an extra £200 for a LIFETIME subscription to EPG services. I think these users will have a legitimate and legal right to complain.

    1. Jamie Cole
      Grenade

      Lifetime

      I imagine in this sense the "lifetime subscription" means the lifetime of the TiVo box not the lifetime of the subscriber.

      Exactly how the "lifetime guarantee" on old floppy discs worked - it was the lifetime of the disc not the owner.

      1. Paw Bokenfohr

        yes, lifetime of the TiVo box

        ...mine is still working, so still in its "lifetime" and I paid the £200 lifetime subscription. I don't actually want a refund, I just want the EPG to keep on working, that's all.

  4. Annihilator

    Depends

    I assume that the owners were promised some sort of life-time guarantee of service? If not, mmmnnnnn, I'm not sure they can complain..

    Would think that they could bodge the firmware to take the OTA Freeview+ EPG that just about every other PVR can grab though, no?

  5. Andrew Ducker
    FAIL

    Depends on the definition of "Lifetime"

    Tivo sold "lifetime" subscriptions. While there are boxes still working, are they still liable to provide the subscription? I suspect that the only people who know are the lawyers already rubbing their hands together....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Weren't they originally sold with the option of a 'lifetime' EPG?

    As I recall there were two flavours, a per month or a 'lifetime' EPG, I'd be a bit miffed if I'd paid for a lifetime service that fizzled out.

    1. xmaspast
      Dead Vulture

      Tivo subscription

      why miffed?

      I have ben paying £10 per month for 10 years so they have saved £1000

      My Tivo is still working like a charm so it is a little sad for it to be "swithched off" in June.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VirginMedia TiVo

    VM is installing its new TiVo boxes ... existing UK TiVo users are being given priority treatement and able to get them now before they are offered to everyone. I had mine installed last week and its great!

  8. mr-tom
    Grenade

    Isn't there also a version of Windows that's also about 9 years old?

    Substitute Windows XP for TiVo and ask the question again.

    What if every version of Windows XP stopped working (everything became read only) tomorrow?

    OK, maybe it isn't the best of analogies after all.

  9. EvilJason
    Thumb Down

    The answer is yes.

    This is the problem with any item that requires continued service from its manufacture.

    If they updated the boxes with a version of the software that allows continued function without much hassle then that is fine they can just walk away but to disable the boxes is wrong.

    This is similar to what Sony did with its ps3 with it disabled the otherOs feature of its console after selling millions with the function.

    In the future i forsee a lot more companies following suit where they close down there service to stop people from operating there products especially in the area of software where many software and games now require online activation, it will take a big case and a company to lose big time for a change in the way these companies operate.

  10. SG679
    Thumb Down

    Shame but expected

    People should complain if they have, like me, pid the £200 FOR LIFE subscription and still use the box. Nine years is not life and I think that Tivo are now in breach of this contract and therefore some sort of compensation shoul dbe due for those customers.

    But then if I am to be honest my Tivo is never used which is a shame as it was a far better PVR than Sky+. Granted Sky+ can record 2 things at once but the software on Tivo is far better - Tivo suggestions etc

  11. Bod

    Jumped ship ages ago

    As much as I loved TiVo, it wasn't HD, still used crummy old SCART connectors, couldn't cope with schedule changes during the day, and only recorded one channel.

    Sky+ HD replaced mine. Interface sucks by comparison but really I've found it does the job I want it to do and the picture quality is impressive.

    TiVo effectively quit the UK pretty much shortly after Sky ditched them for their own platform and that was not long after TiVo launched. They never bothered marketing the thing and didn't offer anything new until the deal with Virgin (which is only an option for cabled areas, and means signing up to the devil and living with the worst customer service in the world, ever, but anyway).

    Frankly I'm surprised the listings service has survived this long considering most people must be on lifetime subs by now, so they get very little income (and those people still paying £10 a month must be nuts!!).

    Great product in it's day. Never moved on. Now dead. Hmm, similar to Symbian ;)

  12. Xander

    It really depends

    How clear was it that they were purchasing the TiVO service as that, a service, and not part of a box. If people purchased their TiVO thinking it would be like a VCR with a hard drive in it then they have a very legitimate complaint.

    Imagine the uproar if tomorrow Sony announced all their 9 year old DVD players will no longer work!

  13. Just Thinking

    Digital switchover is worse

    Well I know how they feel because I am about to ditch a perfectly good HDD recorder, when it becomes completely useless after the digital switchover. I also need to shell out for an aerial/dish.

    All so I can watch such delights as BBC3.

    I am sure there are far more people left out of pocket by the digital switch than there are owners of 9 yo TiVos. It doesn't owe you anything, you are lucky it kept working for so long.

  14. Snigger

    Yes it does affect me

    I actually paid for a lifetime subscription! Therefore they may owe me the money bcak and the cost of the Box! I will have to find out what other similar users think.

  15. Waderider
    Linux

    I think.......

    .......that people who pay for PVR's instead of setting up their own Mythtv box deserve to be parted from their money i.e. time to shut up and buy again.

    Mind you, it is still bad behaviour from Tivo, but par for the course.

  16. Alex Wilson
    Thumb Down

    sad day:(

    As someone with TWO tivos, both with LIFETIME subscriptions I'm rather irked to say the least....

    For a ten year old piece of kit its still FAR superior to the sky+ boxes that replaced it!

    /sad

  17. Jolltax
    Unhappy

    Sad day

    The S1 TiVo is still superior in many ways to a lot of current PVR's and is a brilliant device. Which is why it will be a sad day for the surprisingly large number of remaining S1 TiVo owners who cannot access VirginMedia's service and are having their perfectly serviceable devices forcibly junked.

    Many of the S1 owners were happily paying a subscription for the service and are not looking for a free ride.

    A cautionary tale for owners of the new Virgin TiVo's perhaps, what is the shelf life of the new TiVo?

  18. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Martin 37
    Unhappy

    RIP old friend.

    I got one of the first Tivos in the UK - within a few weeks of introduction. It did exactly what I wanted then and still does now. I had spent some time and money trying to cobble together a PC and tuner-based alternative to a VCR, which plainly didn't work.

    I have upgraded the disk from 40GB to 400; I'm on my third handset.

    I never watch TV live. Even if there's a program I want to watch I'll let the Tivo get about 10 minutes ahead, so I don't have to sit through the adverts.

    I paid my £10/month to Tivo and then Sky for 10 years. I was convinced the £300 (?) one-time fee was not the best deal as there was bound to be something faster/better/cheaper along in less than two years. There wasn't.

    Yes, it would be nice if it would carry on forever, but whining about it isn't going to help. And I for one am not going to Virgin or Sky - the content available on Freeserve is more than enough for me, I just want a Tivo service to record it for me so I can watch what I want when I want.

    So the ugly great big silver box is going in the bin, I suppose.

    So long.

  20. fishman

    Lifetime subscription?

    In the US, IIRC, you could get a lifetime subscription for your TiVo. With a lifetime subscription, I would expect to get full use for as long as the unit worked.

  21. kforshaw
    Thumb Down

    RIP TiVo

    I'm gutted over this to be honest.

    The treatment from TiVo is shoddy to say the least, as soon as a new boy hits town - bang you're dead!

    VM special offer was the box for £149 and £3pm extra for the service.

    Absolute pants when S1 is still supported in other countries

    (Wishes she could put 3 thumbs down for this!)

  22. mayesj

    TiVo Series1 Service

    The original offering was not only through Sky and many people purchased their TiVo from Currys or Dixons without having any connection to Sky. The TiVo service works well with FreeView and the only alternative offering to current Series1 owners is to pay Virgin Media £149 (assuming they pre-register) for a box they do not own along with a monthly subscription of £34.50 per month (£414.00 per annum). It is not the fault of loyal TiVo owners that TiVo poorly marketed their offering 10 years ago and decided to pull out of the UK only to come back with a supplier that does not have blanket UK coverage. The comment that TIVO have not been billing people since November 2010 is somewhat erroneous as many people purchased a lifetime subscription to the service. The TiVo Series1 is still the best PVR offering in the UK, bearing in mind Virgin are not yet shipping their offering. YES we have a right to complain.

  23. Timo

    think TiVo may be stuck here

    I have a 2nd gen TiVo box, and have been paying $12.95 a month for the service for nearly 5 years now. They've been hammering me with emails to get me to upgrade, but I'm not too interested (I probably should be interested but find that I am watching less and less "TV").

    I completely understand why they're trying to get people to upgrade and/or lock in to another service plan. But if they pushed me to make a move, it would probably be to abandon the TiVo altogether, not to upgrade. I guess in this case if they are not billing subscribers then they really have nothing to lose. 9 years seems like they've been generous with support.

  24. Joe Burmeister

    GPL3

    TiVoization bites. Now if more (Linux itself) was GPL3, they won't have been able to lock down, and the users could continue the device as long as they wanted without Tivo's support.

  25. Chris Hatfield
    Alert

    Livid!

    I paid £200 for a "Lifetime subscription" , as an alternative to paying £10/month.

    The hardware still works, why discontinue service? this is really disappointing

    Why would they risk the bad PR and do something like this?

  26. wondermouse
    FAIL

    Bad move by TiVo

    I think this shows a basic misunderstanding by TiVo of the UK market.

    TiVo US clearly doesn't understand that cable in the UK is not universally available, unlike in the US. Getting a new TiVo is not an option. I wish it were. I'd happily pay for a dual-tuner Freeview HD TiVo, and so, I suspect, would the majority of existing Series 1 owners.

    For those of you that use a Sky+ or Sky HD box, the TiVo infterface is SO much better! A sky box is like a TiVo with a lobotomy.

    That's why there are loads of people, like me, who still keep their series one machines running.

    IF we could upgrade we would, but the only new model is a cable only device and I'm not in a cabled area. Nor, according to Virgin Media, am I ever likely to be. (Yes I live in the far-far-away, remote wilds of, erm, London. Zone 2.)

    Without the subscription servce my tivo, and everyone else's in the UK, will become large silver doorstops.

    We love our TiVos because they are BETTER. By taking the service away and not replacing it will sour the whole TiVo experience.

    This stinks.

    1. Snigger

      Action

      I think users like ourselves will have to consider legal action.

    2. Bob H
      Stop

      Not unheard of

      The 4TV/Inview service was used on Sony recorders and they lost service when Sony decided not to sustain the business of supporting a different EPG standard than the UK national standard EPG and they didn't want to go back and update all the legacy product.

      http://stuckinstandby.co.cc/4tv-inview-epg-switch-off-latest#update-10

      Many manufacturers have implemented products on the basis of services from third parties for which they must pay a maintenance fee annually. When they cease to do so the service stops (this is essentially the same for TiVO UK because they must buy the EPG data service from someone else). If the business model no longer sustains the payment of those fees then the manufacturer may take a decision on the basis of risk (warranty claims, bad publicity) against the volume of legacy product still in the market and the on-going cost.

      I am biased because I work in the industry, but I also would think twice about buying a Panasonic product because they also use a third party EPG service from Gemstar/Rovi rather than the UK standard EPG data. Perhaps the fact that many of these products also have adverts in their EPG to subsidise the services helps them be self funding after the manufacturer quits? But I am not privy to their contracts. Perhaps TiVO UK's business could be purchased by someone else who could operate the service for consumers, but that may not suit the TiVO brand strategy and wouldn't inspire people to take up Virgin.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      Stops working

      Dang, Apple has just released another new set of T&Cs, and they've missed this opportunity.

      A future iPhone iOS upgrade - the phone will only receive calls after a date set by St Steve.

      You mention Microsoft, but who is really more likely to implement a lockdown.

    4. copsewood
      Grenade

      Might well happen

      Microsoft takes old products out of security support at some point. You won't get security patches for Windows 98 or pre 2000 versions of Windows NT any more. All it would then take is an active enough XP worm and you won't be able to use XP on an Internet connection where the firewall doesn't block this worm, as is the case if you are still running NT on a server somewhere.

      Also because this isn't an open source operating system, you won't be able pay anyone else to fix it.

    5. Paw Bokenfohr

      Bully for you.

      But some of us don't want nor need Virgin service, even if we're part of the 60% of the population that can get it.

      I was very happy with FreeSat and my TiVo S1 and although it's worked for many years, so what; if TiVo didn't want to sell lifetime subscriptions, they didn't have to! They even went to great pains to define "lifetime" as the lifetime of the TiVo recorder. Mine's still going strong, why shouln't I expect them to continue the EPG as "promised"?

      I will not be paying for Virgin, let alone an extra fee to use the TiVo functionality.

    6. Brangdon
      Thumb Up

      Not like PS3

      It's not really like what Sony did with the PS3. TiVo are only halting the EPG update service. The box will still work as a digital recorder. (Almost certainly - it's speculation to suppose otherwise.) We'll just lose all the bells and whistles that depend on the EPG, and have to rely on manual timed recordings.

      The EPG service is downloaded via an archaic dial-up modem. It's not networked; it's 11-year-old technology. Those phone calls were part of the service. The cost of them may be part of why TiVo is discontinuing it. The EPG data itself costs money to produce too, as it needs to be massaged into TiVO format in order to drive their Wishlists etc.

      "Lifetime" means the lifetime of the service: as long as the service is provided in the UK, lifetime subscribers get it for free. It lasted over 10 years, so those subscribers got a good deal.

      I'm still using my s1 TiVo, but I don't think we have much grounds for complaint, either legally or ethically. I'm just surprised they've announced it now. They've created a lot of bad PR right at the start of their Virgin Media launch. Worst possible timing for them. If they could have held on for another 3-6 months, hopefully good feedback from VM early adopters would make s1 complaints less significant.

  27. JEDIDIAH
    Linux

    What do I think?

    I think this is precisely the sort of crap that caused me to dump Tivo for MythTV.

    Users are charged a pretty penny for guide data. The least they could do is allow older devices to keep on using it. It's not like they were ever giving this stuff out for free or even at a reasonable cost.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Demise of TiVo series 1

    This is a shame, TiVo have provided the EPG data for the last 10 years (I have been surprised that they have supported their users for so long) then they do a deal which means that they will have to continue producing the EPG data but now won't make it available for their most loyal customers.

    Shame on Virgin Media for forcing their hand and dumping their long standing customers.

    Regards

    Alan

  29. David Gosnell

    You'd think...

    ... it would cost a pittance to keep at least a skeleton service going, but as those of us bitten by the 4TV/Inview débâcle last year know all too well, even a pittance seems to be too much.

  30. NickNick
    Paris Hilton

    Lifetime Subscription

    "Thank you for purchasing a lifetime subscription for your TiVo recorder" says the letter. Well, I'm not dead, yet, and nor is the the TiVo box. That was quite an investment and this news doesn't make me happy at all.

    (Paris, because she'd want it to go on and on as well.)

  31. Karnka

    Been coming for a while

    I can't say I blame TiVo. I'm sure that when they stopped selling them 8-9 years ago it was estimated that there were something like 30,000 of them sold so there can't be that many around still...

    I've been expecting either the service to end or my TiVo to die for a few years now.

    Perhaps I'd be less accepting if I didn't already have Virgin TV so have an upgrade path but if they hadn't made this new cable only TiVo it's not like there would have been an alternative replacement.

    Anyway, I expect outrage on here too :-)

  32. Christian Berger Silver badge

    I never quite understood this

    Why would you want to tie a video recording device to a service? You can just get the EPG data from the DVB-stream, or if you are mildly clever, from teletext pages.

  33. Countryman

    TiVo dump their customer base

    Well, if it ain't bust, don't fix it.

    The fact that TiVo didn't charge any subs is a red herring. They knew that Virgin's cable footprint was poor yet they went ahead. Several people offered to support the service for those users who were not on the cable footprint but TiVo Inc ignored them.

    Who's to say that after a couple of years, TiVo don't decide to dump all their support for the VirginMedia tie-up?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Lifetime subscription??? !

    I have a LIFETIME subscription for my TiVo.

    We do npt have Virgin cable where I live.

    This is OUTRAGEOUS.

  35. rfrovarp

    Lifetime service?

    In the US you can buy lifetime service for a particular device. This should at least get you program guide updates for as long as the device is running. Anyone with that service has the right to be upset.

  36. Matthew Collier
    Thumb Down

    Arse!

    Not that I was ever naive enough to believe they would actually honour the lifetime subscription I paid for, but.....arse! (there is still no product on the market that is anywhere near as good, IMHO!)

  37. Andrew Martin 1

    It all depends

    What was in their contract? You can't have perpetual updates for no money, but if they bought a product which was supposed to deliver certain functionality in perpetuity and it has stopped doing so ... then surely the vendor is culpable.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    All very well but.....

    Thats fine for the people who were paying monthly, but back in the day they happily sold 'lifetime' subscriptions to their TV guide, without which it becomes pretty useless. Surely the cost of servicing however few old boxes are out there would be worth its return in good PR?

    I have (mostly) switched to Sky+ purely because of the dual tuner, but even now compared to the TiVo interface its still sluggish as hell and nowhere near as user friendly.

    Still, I am sure there will be third party options available to fill the void - never underestimate the geek, for they will inherit the world!

  39. Mathonar
    Unhappy

    too late to Ebay my Tivo then

    The Virgin Tivo boxes are shipping to Tivo users who were offered them through their current Tivos.

    Still waiting to hear from Virgin after i expressed an interest although my Tivo was boxed up last year when i moved to a V+HD box. Can't wait to get back to having a Tivo again.

    I can understand why Tivo users wouldn't be happy though, if you're not in a cable area your only choice is to go Sky+ or Freeview.

    Any anyone who's used Tivo knows anything else seems like a step backwards in usability...

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