How to save $500 a year by switching to TiVo

By on March 27, 2017

tivo-bolt

While cord cutting is a great way to save money, it’s not for everyone. If you are in a household that simply doesn’t want to ditch a premium cable subscription due to must-have channels or simplicity of use, there are ways to save money on your monthly bill without cutting the cord.

Similar to purchasing to your own cable modem for Internet connectivity rather than renting one from your cable company, shifting to a platform like TiVo will allow you to return your cable boxes and bring an end to rental fees. In addition, you will be able to shift your monthly DVR fee from your cable company to a lower cost service fee from TiVo.

Check Your Bill

The cable provider in my area of the country is Cox. For my installation, I originally requested DVR service, a central hub box (1TB) with 6 tuners, and three additional tuners that can connect to the main DVR box over the cable lines.

cox-charges

As you can see from the bill above, my service was running me about $54 a month; roughly $20 for the DVR service and $8.50 for each box. If you have a larger home to outfit with more boxes, that number could be even higher. It all depends on what your cable company is charging for DVR service and for each box.

Here’s a breakdown of what a few of the major cable companies charge for a similar setup (Whole Home DVR service + 4 boxes)

Monthly Rental Fees
Company DVR Service Per Box DVR + 4 boxes Yearly Total
Charter $20 $7 $48 $576
Comcast $19.95 $9.95 $60 $720
Cox $19.99 $8.50 $54 $648
Time Warner $19.99 $11.75 $67 $804
Verizon Fios $22 $8.99 $58 $696

Compare to TiVo

In short, you will be replacing your DVR / rental fees from your cable company with an upfront purchase of hardware from TiVo as well as a monthly, yearly or lifetime fee for DVR service and TiVo’s recommendation platform.

  • Monthly rate: $14.99.
  • Yearly rate: $149.99 ($12.50-a-month).
  • Lifetime service rate: $549.99 ($11.50-a-month spread over 4 years).

Regarding hardware costs, one sample setup would be to purchase a TiVo Bolt ($200 to $500 depending on hard drive storage size, number of tuners) and multiple TiVo Mini boxes ($150). To match a similar setup as detailed in the cable example above, a 1TB TiVo Bolt + 3 Tivo Minis will run $750. Add $150 for the yearly rate and the initial cost for the first year is $900.  In addition, you will need a cable card from your service provider, usually $1 to $3 a month.

A Time Warner customer would nearly break even on the first year, save more than $500 on year two and save roughly $650 every year after that (assuming they are on the yearly plan). That’s a savings of $2,400 over five years. A Time Warner customer on the lifetime service plan would come out slightly better over five years, saving roughly $2,700.

tivo-mini

TiVo Installation Tips

  1. The number televisions utilizing a live television feed in your home (via a TiVo Mini) is directly related to the number of tuners in your main TiVo box. If you have a couple kids watching television in different rooms, you may want to spring for the 6-tuner model in order to record multiple shows on the other tuners while live feeds are being used on the Mini boxes.
  2. Be sure to check that the serial number on your main TiVo Bolt matches the serial number on your TiVo account. I ordered through TiVo.com (which should have registered my serial automatically), but ended up having to call their support line to switch to the correct number.
  3. If you are running over MoCa (streaming video from your Bolt to your Mini via your home’s cable network), you will need to hardwire your Bolt to directly to an Ethernet connection. You also have the option of connecting your Mini’s via Ethernet, but a home is much more likely to have cable jacks than hardwired Ethernet jacks.
  4. Connecting Tivo Mini boxes using a Powerline adapter isn’t recommended by TiVo, but some users have had luck with the newer Gigabit-capable Powerline adapters (example). It may be worth testing before running Ethernet cables all over your home.
  5. If you are running Ethernet cable to all Minis in a home, pick up a switch that offers a minimum of 1GB of bandwidth per TiVo device. Most gigabit Ethernet switches should do the trick.
  6. Be aware that TiVo includes a diagnostics screen for testing signal strength to the various boxes around your home. It’s definitely worth testing signal strength to make sure you don’t run into any choppy video problems or dropped connections. If you are running through MoCa, consider adding a point-of-entry MoCA filter if you are losing Internet connectivity.

About Mike Flacy

By day, I'm the Editor-in-Chief for The CheckOut in addition to being the content manager for Steve's Digicams and High-Def Digest. During my free time, I love to write about pop culture, home theater, digital photography, social media, mobile technology and cool gadgets!

One Comment

  1. Matt

    April 4, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Or build a HTPC (home theatre PC) with a dual or quad TV tuner. Install NextPVR (free) or Windows Media Center. Pay $20 a year to Schedules Direct (for enhanced TV guide information). Add Universal Media Server (DLNA server), and you can stream to Roku, AppleTV, and Amazon Fire devices. Avoiding having to pay TIVO anything.

    I will say, it’s pretty weird having to reboot your DVR due to Windows Updates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *