How TiVo Works

TiVo: The Service

Image courtesy © 2007 TiVo Inc. All Rights Reserved. TiVo's Now Playing Screen
Image courtesy © 2007 TiVo Inc. All Rights Reserved. TiVo's Now Playing Screen

So you own a TiVo set and want to take advantage of its functions -- what do you do now? TiVo owners must subscribe to a TiVo service to use their sets. Otherwise, all they have is another box cluttering up their entertainment center.

TiVo sells subscriptions by the month or by the year. At one time, TiVo offered a lifetime subscription deal (the lifetime of your TiVo set, not your own lifetime). Although TiVo no longer offers the lifetime subscription, it does honor the subscriptions already purchased by customers.

TiVo does not actually provide the cable or satellite signal to your set, which means you still have to subscribe to a cable or satellite company for your television signal (unless you depend entirely upon antenna signals). TiVo's service acts as a liaison between your television signal provider and you. It interprets the signals from your provider and allows you to tell your TiVo what programs you want to record.

You have to tell TiVo where your television signal comes from when you first set up your TiVo set. Older TiVo units require a phone line so that they can download the programming schedule your service uses, but newer models can either access this information through a phone line or your home network broadband connection. Without this information, TiVo wouldn't know how to tune in to the programs you want to watch and record.

TiVo offers many package deals and specials on services, so prices change often. In general, TiVo service usually ranges from $12 to $16 a month, depending on the length of your service agreement. This fee is on top of the price you pay for cable or satellite service.

TiVo Competitors

Some cable and satellite companies are getting into the DVR game, either producing their own DVR units or partnering with a third party manufacturer. Many offer packages that have no purchase price for the DVR unit. Instead, customers pay more for their cable or satellite service, though most of the time these costs are lower than TiVo's fees. Major service providers that offer DVRs include:

Image courtesy Consumer Guide Products
  • Adelphia Communications
  • CableOne
  • Comcast
  • Cox Communications
  • DirecTV
  • Dish Network
  • Time Warner Cable

How can TiVo compete against companies that offer similar services at lower fees? Loyal TiVo customers cite TiVo's simple user interface and network capabilities. As the market becomes more crowded with competitors, TiVo continues to evolve and offer more diverse options that other units can't yet replicate.

In the next section, we'll look at some features that set TiVo apart from the competition.