Remember 2005 when the name TiVo meant something? It was a synonymous with DVRs. Crappy Comcast boxes were called TiVos because consumers didn’t know any better. TiVo subscribers were locked into the TiVo lifestyle by a sort of Stockholm syndrome, fulling willing to pay the huge retail cost of a TiVo and a relatively high monthly fee to use the system. TiVo apparently didn’t get the notice. It ain’t 2005 anymore and the $99 TiVo Mini with its $5.99 monthly fee is a bit crazy.
At best, the TiVo Mini is fine little box. It’s a second screen option, designed to go into a bedroom or den and pull content from the main TiVo. It appears to be the size of an Apple TV or last-gen Roku. The box also serves up an assortment of streaming service including Hulu Plus, YouTube, and Spotify (but no Netflix). It’s even priced right at $99 — until you consider the monthly cost.
The TiVo Mini costs $5.99 a month or $150 for a lifetime pass. For just this box. That’s on top of the cost of the house’s other TiVo which costs $14.99 a month.
In its heyday, TiVo was an innovation leader. With a bit of help from ReplayTV, TiVo pushed the DVR into the mainstream. DVRs are the norm because of TiVo. But somewhere over the last few years, likely while TiVo was fighting lawsuits, TiVo’s innovation slowed and became stagnant. Whole-house solutions, like the Dish Hopper that also includes a SlingBox, are becoming the next best thing and TiVo, the once ubiquitous name in DVRs, doesn’t have a legitimate option.
The TiVo Mini is TiVo’s closest thing to a whole house — but each additional TV costs $99 and $5.99 a month. The Mini is designed to support another TiVo, serving as an extender with a limited amount of standalone features. Likewise the cost structure should support that goal: charging a monthly fee seems petty when the owner is already paying for the TiVo service.
Owning a TiVo has never been cheap. It’s always been the expensive DVR on the market. But from Netflix to Aereo to Dish’s Hopper, there have never been more TV viewing options. TiVo better, as they say, stop nickel and diming its remaining subscribers before they jump off the overpriced TiVo bandwagon.