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Thursday, September 13, 2007

TIVO HD DVR at $300 - Too Little, Too Late?

TIVO HD DVR Pricing Forces Customer Evangelist To Buy Competing DVRAs I mentioned in a previous post, I was a TIVO fanatic. Notice the word “was”. From the second I bought my first TIVO, I became a word of mouth marketing machine for the product. As a customer evangelist, I was my own viral marketing channel for TIVO (no pun intended). It’s what every company strives for, right? Get people so jazzed up about your product that they find ways to tell the world about it. Whether it’s in a blog post, at a party, at the park with your kids, at work, on a plane, train, etc. You get the point! So, with HD booming over the past few years and everyone buying HD TV’s, how would TIVO respond? If you want HD resolution, then you didn’t want to use a standard definition TIVO box. TIVO fans eagerly waited to see…

Well Hello Competitors!
As cable and satellite companies (like Comcast in my area) introduced their DVR’s at extremely reasonable prices, more and more people started to try them out. They were integrated into the cable box, supported by the cable company, and the installation just seemed “cleaner” than installing a TIVO. Again, TIVO fans waited to see what TIVO would do… Personally, at that time, I loved TIVO and would not give the Comcast DVR a try just yet… I was a loyal TIVO fan.

TIVO Offers Their HD DVR!!!...
…At $800? What? When most HD TV’s range from $1200 - $2500, you want to charge me a whopping $800 for a DVR?? Seriously? No, come on…you’re pulling my leg. There’s an extra zero in there or something. OK, I’m going overboard here, but this was my first reaction. So I was stuck…I loved TIVO, didn’t want to go to the dark side of using a cable company, but I wanted my HD TV!! I really have no idea what TIVO was thinking. They basically thumbed their noses at their top customers…the people that spread the word about their product like wildfire. Forcing them to make a decision like this was dead wrong. And, that TIVO's marketing department thought this was a good idea scares me as a professional.

The Call to TIVO Customer Service
So, reluctantly, I made the move to Comcast’s HD DVR, and overall, I was happy with the product. There are definitely some things I don’t like about it, but overall, I’m happy. Then I had to call TIVO to cancel one of my plans (I have 2 TIVO’s and one would remain hooked up to a standard def TV). The woman I spoke with was extremely nice and customer service oriented. I was expecting the AOL-like method of not letting you cancel the plan, but I didn’t experience that. She was professional, empathetic, and made me feel that I was her first call of the day (which I knew wasn’t the case…) Now, you should notice the word I used above “empathetic”. This is because when she asked why I was canceling one of my plans, I explained that $800 was ridiculous and although I love my TIVO, the smart decision was to make a move to Comcast. Then I waited to here her pitch for staying, why the HD TIVO was worth the $800, so on and forth. But, I didn’t hear that at all…you know what I heard?? “I hear you Glenn…to be honest, it’s hard for us to even afford the $800”. What?? That’s from a TIVO employee for crying out loud!! Now, if that’s not a reason to second guess your marketing strategy, then I don’t know what is.

Months Later, TIVO introduces their “Affordable” HD DVR
Great. Whoopee. Now I feel like they insulted my intelligence. This is what I was asking for months ago… I actually would have paid $400 back then. I said this all along to my wife. “If they were only a few hundred dollars less...” $400 was my limit, but they kept it at $800. Now, after making the move to Comcast, I’m supposed to do a double flip and buy the $300 HD TIVO? I don’t think so. Note that the $300 TIVO is a different product than the $800, but for the average customer, that doesn't matter.

It’s funny. In the past, whenever I heard someone talking about TIVO, I got a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Now when I hear “TIVO”, it’s a much different feeling, like I just walked into a cheesy car dealership and a guy with a skinny tie, wearing floods, with a toothpick sticking out of his mouth just approached me. “Hey boss, looking for a new car? We've got some great prices...”

It’s funny how a marketing strategy can take someone from being a company fanatic to someone writing a post like this. Ouch. It truly is sad.

So, what do you think? Is it too little, too late?


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  • At 2:17 PM, Blogger JJ said…

    I went through the exact same experience, albeit with Time Warner instead of Comcast. I moved over to HD, and after all I had spent on new equipment, the $800 TiVo just wasn't in my budget. But, for me, the waiting seemed to pay off. I bought a TiVo HD the week they came out and have been EXTREMELY happy to be back on the TiVo band wagon. For me, the crappy TWC Scientific Atlanta box was just so horrific, I'd rather watch TV with icepicks stuck in my eyes than continue to use that thing. So alas, TiVo came around and now everything is good again.

  • At 2:49 PM, Blogger Glenn Gabe said…

    Hi JJ.

    Thanks for posting your TIVO story. I'm glad it worked out for you...and I'm sure it would have worked out for me too. But, with Comcast's DVR working pretty darn well and the HD TIVO being $800 at the time, I had to go with Comcast. And, overall, it's a good DVR. I loved my TIVO and the software is definitely better, but I can't complain about my Comcast DVR.

    If they only had the $300 price tag when I (and many) were ready to make the move...


  • At 9:46 AM, Blogger webdh said…

    It's always tough with new technology to be the early adopter. Do I buy now, and be the first to have the hot gadget at the steep price? Or wait it out until they are forced to drop prices as demand slows? This same thing just happened with the iPhone, and it only took two months for Apple to drop it $200. TiVo isn't always perfect with their messaging and marketing, but I think you'd be happy if you gave them another change and picked up the HD box.

  • At 10:48 AM, Blogger Glenn Gabe said…

    Hi Troy.

    I definitely wasn’t thrilled having to make the move from TIVO to my Comcast I said in my post, I was a huge TIVO evangelist. That said, someone at TIVO should have thought about losing customers when they came out with the whopping $800 price tag! I was stuck…

    There's no doubt that TIVO’s software is better, I've said that all along. But, there are rumors that Comcast will be adding the TIVO software to their DVR's. Not sure if this is entirely accurate, so maybe you can shed some light?

    BTW, I'm sure I would love the HD TIVO! I just wish it came out a little sooner...

    Thanks for your post.

  • At 11:45 PM, Blogger webdh said…

    The Comcast/TiVo service went live last week. Hard to know who has access yet, all they say is the New England area. There is a new website that has some info here:

  • At 5:46 AM, Blogger Glenn Gabe said…

    Thanks Troy. That is definitely exciting news...I know a lot of people have been waiting for it to come out.

    It's not available in my area yet, but as soon as it is, I'll be first on the list. :-)

    Thanks again for the link.


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