TiVo Ends Major Updates to the Series3

January 23, 2012

In rapid succession, TiVo has pushed out a couple of updates for its Premiere series of DVRs (14.9, 20.2) with another significant one in the wings for the spring. Last year, as TiVo announced new functionality including their new Netflix client, I wondered if the Series3 (or “TiVo HD”) platform would also be updated. TiVo did provide some updates to the Series3 in 2011 including the release of Pandora and Hulu Plus. So, I recently posed the following question to @TiVoDesign, Margret Schmidt, who is in charge of TiVo’s user experience:

@tivodesign Any hope we'll see some of the new features in the S3: i.e. MRS, new Netflix?

In response, @TiVoDesign asnwered:

@TechOfTheHub I don't expect any significant updates to Series3/HD.

Now, the only place I would expect to see updates is in the form of bug fixes. I don’t even think we’ll see new services come to the box. As reporeted by our friend MegaZone at Gizmo Lovers, TiVo recently released a developer SDK for third-party developers that will only work with the Premiere. Based on the language on TiVo’s page describing the platform SDK, it appears the API is directed at partners who build apps and services such as VUDU or Pandora for the moment ( a “select group of third-party developers” ).

Last year, while I was firmly in the Series3 needs updates camp, things are different now. It’s a year later and the Series3 will be six years old this September. I realized last year it was time to make the switch to the Premiere. (My Series3 found a good home powering our kitchen TV, so I don’t have to pay for a cable box!). It’s time for customers to cut over to the Premiere. If TiVo is going to keep this stream of updates for the Premiere going and enhance the iPad app, they won’t have the resources to also update their legacy platforms. Focus is important. It would be great for TiVo to focus its energy on getting as many existing customers on the Series4 or Premiere platform as soon as possible. What would be nice is if TiVo put out a new incentive for existing pre-Premiere customers. An improvement over the current incentives to date would be to let those customers simply transfer their Lifetime subscription to a new Premiere. To make the numbers work, TiVo could charge a bit more for the hardware than it normally costs (and it’s not much now). Growing subscriber numbers is one of the keys to TiVo’s success. This is critical as TiVo pushes into a world where they sell advertising space on the DVR and are attempting to become the DVR of cable companies.

Related Posts:

TiVo’s Tablet and Smartphone Streaming Demo (Video)

TiVo’s Netflix Player Preview

Tags: Premiere, Series3, TiVo

4 Responses to TiVo Ends Major Updates to the Series3

  1. MegaZone on January 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Small correction – the S3 family (which is the ‘Series3′ and the TiVo HD) did get Pandora, but not Hulu Plus. Hulu Plus was one of the first apps written in the new environment on the Premiere.

    But I agree, the S3/HD will probably get bug fixes for a little while yet, but they’re unlikely to get any new features or major changes. The new Netflix and Amazon UIs will be written in the new SDK, I’m sure, and thus Premiere-only.

  2. Gabe Gagliano on January 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks. I fixed the post. It would be nice to get more details on when there’s going to be an Amazon refresh.

  3. TechWzrd on January 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Vudu? I wish my TiVo could access Vudu… is this something you may have heard is being worked? One of the best things about Vudu in my view besides their HDX video quality is the ability to watch trailers for the all of their movies.

    As a TiVo investor I’m not exactly sure what incentive’s, if any, TiVo should use to push Series 3 customers to upgrade. In my case I was able to purchase a new Premiere ($99) with Lifetime ($399) and sell my Series 3 on ebay for $300+ so the net cost to upgrade was less than $200. They really don’t want to “transfer” a subscription because it would result in a net zero increase in subscriber count. In my case the sale of the Series 3 and my addition of the Premiere resulted in an increase of one subscriber.

    The $399 lifetime translates to an Average Revenue per Unit (ARPU) of $6.65 per month for the new TiVo. I’m not sure they would want to go any lower than that on the new box since it puts pressure on their margins. They are already losing money on the $99 box cost.

    Bottom-line in my mind is they really don’t have the margin’s to offer any extra incentive other than Multi-Service Discount MSD)for upgraders.

  4. Gabe Gagliano on January 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I hear what you are saying on the subscriber numbers. Instead, why not keep the existing system that keeps the old box active. So, a simpler way to do it, is to modify the current incentive which takes $100 off Lifetime for existing subscribers; just make it a better incentive ($200 or $300 off).

    As an investor, upgrading all of the customers to the Premiere lets them enjoy all of upgrades coming out. You then create enthusiasts for the brand who will promote it (instead of folks who are disappointed). Since all that money was paid for Lifetime on the Series3, shouldn’t there be an easy way to transition to the new platform. While this would be a margin hit, we’re talking about a relatively small number of subscribers versus what TiVo aspires to for subscriber numbers.

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