back to article Virgin tempts Brits with fee-free TiVo

Virgin Media has offered 1000 customers one of the first of its new TiVo boxes and a free annual subscription to the PVR service to go with it - possibly even free usage for life. Punters today started to receive special Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style tickets in the post, each encouraging them to register online by 24 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what exactly do you get for your subscription?

    I understood Tivo to be a pvr and you paid the subscription for the epg updates tivo provided.

    Are virgin now going to start charging for epg updates??? If not, what service is the tivo subscription paying for?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its for exisitng XL customers

    Think this is only going out to existing XL customers so if you are one of the lucky 1000 there is no extra charge ... the "12 month XL subscription" bit is the standard VM policy that if you change to a new package then you are committed to that for 12 months (though you can upgrade during that time to a higher package ... but that also resets the 12 month counter)

    Sounds like good marketing to me ... the "something for nothing" nature of this offer should get lots of people to respond (especially the lot who would otherwise try the "can I speak to retentions please, I want to move to Sky but might be persuaded to stay if you bung me a free TiVo") and this will give them a list of people who have already started to think they want a TiVo to send another "special limited time offer".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dumb Question

    This is probably a dumb question, but why should you need to pay a subscription fee for a PVR. OK so the lucky punters are getting the box free, but wouldn't it be better to just go out and buy a PVR and not pay a subscription. My PVR only cost £40 used and it can store more hours of TV than I could ever need.

    1. Mike Richards

      Paying for the EPG

      TiVo's business has been to either charge a monthly fee, or charge a much larger one-off 'lifetime'* fee for the same information.

      * of the device, not you.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Yes, it is a dumb question

      Because you're not getting just a PVR, you're getting all the TiVo technology that goes with it, like intelligent wishlists and programme suggestions based on your viewing behaviour.

      This isn't the only promo VM have done - they have also sent out TiVo remotes to 1000 customers, asking them to sign up for a free Tivo with no extra fee. See

      1. Grease Monkey

        Not Dumb at All

        "like intelligent wishlists and programme suggestions based on your viewing behaviour."

        You're paying for pointless, useless crap then? Great.

  4. Dave Foster

    Is it such a good deal?

    I got my invite to enter today, I started to register, then got suspicious. If I registered and didn't get a free TiVo box did that mean I'd signed up to pay for one anyway? So I cancelled, not that I don't trust Branson....

  5. anger

    guess we know who the lucky winners will be

    The majority picks will be for customers on cheaper TV packages to lure them to upgrade to XL.

    I know that TiVo offers more services than just better EPG compared to standard virgin's, but is it really worth extra £10/month or so? Not for me.

    Recently virgin's been trying hard to squeeze more from their customers. Even if you decline any extras the bill seems to go up every 4-6 months.

  6. Duncan Hothersall

    What's the difference

    between this and the V+ box I already have, anyone please?

    1. DoozerUK
      Thumb Up


      TiVo makes V+HD look like something out of the Ark!

    2. Stuart Halliday

      what's the difference?

      Maybe the Tvio box works?

      The V+ service doesn't allow you to time shift radio programmes. It constantly clips the start or end of my TV programmes even if you do add 10mins to each end.

      VirginMedia knows about these bugs (just reformat the drive sir) and even on occasion has given me some money back when I can be bothered to complain. But it's been like this for years...

      No doubt this new box will have it's own set of interesting bugs to irritate its customers.

      1. Duncan Hothersall
        Thumb Up

        Ah, thanks

        I've not had any major probs with mine, but don't use it that extensively. Perhaps I am a televisual luddite. Anyhoo, now I know I don't need to get excited about this special invitation which arrived on my doormat yesterday.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    "possibly even free usage for life"


    Hint: if you win one, make sure you KEEP A COPY of all the documentation for when they stop the service in 9 years time :)

  8. DrXym Silver badge

    Er what?

    I think Virgin has been reading up on the bullshit nickel and diming practices of US companies if they're trying to convince people what a bargain it is to get "free" service included as part of a paid subscription.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    What you get for your subscription

    From being a TiVo series 1 user and looking at things logically and forgetting the free offer at the moment...

    The TiVo subscription 'fee' will give you:

    Intelligent Recording (this is the part that if you are not home and have forgot to put East Enders in a series link, the system will record it for you - because it realises that you NORMALLY watch it)

    Better Search functions. I used to have a set of keywords that I kept in the system, if the keywords matched any program at any point in the future, TiVo would record it. For example "William Shattner" and "Police" would record anything that had William in it and if the program synopsis mentioned police it would record it (I wanted to watch an old 80's series he was in - but cant remember the name)

    Thumbs Up / Down. When watching a program you can give it at Thumbs Up or a Thumbs Down. TiVo would then learn and understand what you like and dont like and give you suggestions of things you may like or dislike and record some things automatically if it thinks you will like them.

    I like Ally McBeal (no accounting for taste) and it suggested i watch Eli Stone. Same concept and style of program. So I was glad it suggested it.

    TiVo is not just about the TV Guide. Everyone who has some form of digital TV has an EPG. TiVo is much more.

    Yes, I am one of those who got the ticket, but no golden 'mote :-(

    Thumbs up... Because I cant do the Badoop Badoop Badoop sound effect!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Sounds like some interesting features there. The keyword search thing works on my Topfield PVR already, the others, not so much. So yeah, useful.

      But why do you pay a subscription for them? They sound like they could be done on-box, can't really see what i'm subscribing too. I wouldn't personally pay X a month for those features. I would pay a one-off charge for a box which did them

      1. David 30

        Reply to post: Hmmm

        Sure they can be done on-box. But you need to keep up to date with the underlying data that drives them. How's it going to know that viewers who watched programme X also liked programme Y if the box was made before the programmes were? It needs to be regularly updated with the latest data (and probably feed back your viewing data to help others) - that's what you'd be paying for.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      RE: What you get for your subscription

      So you're subscribing to a better UI and unchanging features of the box? Features which are mainly regular expressions? :/

      >For example "William Shattner" and "Police" would record anything that had William in it and if the program synopsis mentioned police it would record it (I wanted to watch an old 80's series he was in - but cant remember the name)

      Wouldn't it have been more effective to Google that? (FWIW the show you're after is T.J. Hooker)

      >I like Ally McBeal (no accounting for taste) and it suggested i watch Eli Stone. Same concept and style of program. So I was glad it suggested it.

      There are plenty of websites that provide recommendations for free.

      You really haven't sold it to me. I'll stick with MythTV and XBMC. They're free and do everything you said also for free.

    3. PerfectBlue


      "Intelligent Recording (this is the part that if you are not home and have forgot to put East Enders in a series link, the system will record it for you - because it realises that you NORMALLY watch it)."

      So, if my kids sneak down stairs late at night to watch something "unsuitable", it will start recording other similar programs for them?

      So, I could end up with a PVR full of episodes of Girls Gone Wild and Slash Gore theatre?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      RE: "William Shattner" and "Police"

      That 80s show you were looking for would be TJ Hooker.

    5. unitron

      It was "T.J.Hooker"...

      ...and all you really wanted was the episode where Heather Locklear was undercover as an exotic dancer.

      Anybody else remember his first series after Star Trek, "Barbary Coast"?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    MythTV and MythMagic

    If you've got a bit of time on your hands to set it up you can have the same sort of TiVo functionality on Freeview, but with no subscriptions, using MythTV ( for the PVR functionality and a plugin called MythMagic ( to provide the intelligent recording and thumbs up/down features.

  11. Brangdon

    The VM TiVo fee is £3/month

    That's what us series 1 TiVo users are being charged. We get the boxes early, and a reduced setup fee; a reasonable offer but obviously not as good as the 1000 winners. The £3/month is on top of the usual XL TV monthly fee.

    The series 1 fee was £10/month, although lifetime subscriptions were available for £200. So £3/month is a reduction, which makes sense now that basic PVRs are no longer anything special.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Not NSFW, then...

    I thought this was going to be NSFW, then I caught up with final two letters of the title.

    Damn it, all those years of feminism, and I still have a hard-wired man brain

  13. Big_Ted

    My title

    Its £3 a month for the TiVo sub.

    This includes enhanced epg that leaves all others in the shade.

    A dedicated 10 Meg Broadband connection so when streaming its doesn't affect your normal connection.

    Also aps, just a small number now, youtube ebay etc but Virgin say there will be hundreds in a year.

    They are talking to people like spotify and lovefilm as well as many others.

    Thats what the £3 a month pays for.

    The tickets are only going out to top tier customers, ie you must have XL tv, phone and broadband with them in either a VIP pack or as a triple bundle.

    There has already been 1000 picked for install spread around the country as a soft launch to allow installers to get used to the kit etc.

  14. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

    Not so much a temptation...

    As Tivo/Virgin making you an offer you can't refuse.

    See Slashdot:-

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Title...

    VM are going to have to offer me this service for free if they have any hope of keeping me as a customer!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you are running a service like Virgin

    Why would you need to supply a physical box?

  17. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Another Virgin Media "free" scam

    They must think the Great British Public are fools. Well enough of them to be able to laugh all the way to the bank.

  18. Cunningly Linguistic

    The only thing I won...

    ...from Virgin Media was a seemingly lifetime's worth of spam snailmail because our street is wired up yet I continue to reject their advances.

  19. leeeeeb

    So is it free, or is it "free"

    My recent experience of Virgin's direct marketing tactics leave me sceptical. I'd received the BB offer to upgrade to 30MB, which appeared to use two different letters. For one group the upgrade was completely free, for others there was a £30 install charge.

    I had the letter for completely, but when I tried the call center they wouldn't budge from £30, plus another £5 per month due to a previous loyalty discount. So free = £90 more for the next 12 months...

    If you use direct mail, addressed to a customer by name and personalised, get it right. If not, you annoy the customer and look like a bunch of numpties.

  20. Valerion

    How many tuners?

    Is it still crippled with only 2 tuners, or has it been improved now to have 3, like the current box I've got from them?

  21. AnoniMouse

    Utterly Useless

    Like almost half the UK population, we do notr haven Virgin cable coverage, so this miniscule palliative to the three-way skullduggery between TiVO, Birgin and BSkyB is of no use whatsoever.

    So that's now two near monopolies with whom I will never consider doing business.

  22. Jezza @ Cix

    Tivo abandons loyal customers

    Amongst all the fanfares about the new service I'd like to put forward the viewpoint of a loyal Tivo Series 1 user. I, like many others who have expressed a view at and elsewhere, have been happily paying them £10 a month for many years and believe it's been worth every penny to have a the use of an intelligent PVR. The interface is far superior to anything else I have seen since and its facilities are amazing, especially the ability to speculatively record programmes that I may like, based on previously expressed preferences.

    Sadly, as part of this launch, the supporting EPG service for the Series 1 boxes is being turned off, leaving those of us not in a Virgin area high and dry, with a box which has become a brick. One assumes that the EPG data will still be processed to provide a guide for the Virgin boxes and that the amount of work to provide the same data for the Series 1 boxes is relatively minor. This looks to me like a corporate deal abandoning customers with no viable alternative. I hope they relent and either continue to supply the £10 EPG service or give their blessing to someone like Digiguide or tvtv doing so.

    Boo, Hiss to Virgin and Tivo.

  23. Countryman

    "Life" but not as we know it

    "enjoy it completely on us... for life". says the blurb.

    That's the same definition of 'life' that TiVo used when they sold us their Lifetime Subcriptions then? The same Lifetime Subscriptions that they have just canned? Or should I say 'conned'?

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Lifetime service

    I have an original series one TiVo with a supposed lifetime subscription. I've not used it in years because I've not been able to get an analogue TV signal in donkeys and I couldn't be bothered to try and find a STB that it could control. Should've sold it really.

    Anyway, I'd like a Virgin TiVo but TiVo had better allow me to transfer my lifetime sub to the new box or they will incur my wrath and they won't like my wrath, wright.

  25. Matthew Collier

    S1 Lifetime Service +1

    I too still have a (hacked) Series 1 Tivo, connected to my Sky box, and it's still the best bit of consumer electronics kit, ever, by a long way. My wife is far more upset than me about the loss of the service, as she uses it far more than me, but after 10 years, you really do take for granted all the stuff it records automatically for you (I've got about 50 season passes and wishlists, most of which were setup years ago), both via long forgotten season pass/wishlists, and via it's "I think you might like this programme" thing. I also think the display a list of up comming programmes by type/name/category/other criteria you select, is fantastic.

    I am now investigating replacing it with Myth, to record both the Sky channels, and Freesat HD, because one thing is for sure, I don't want anything to do with Virgin Media, and certainly not at those prices, nor do I want a locked down TiVo, now I've got used to archiving off stuff I want to keep.

    Here's hoping someone clever in the UK TiVo community, can firgure out how to slice in an alternative EPG supplier before June!

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