Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Mulling a TiVo Roamio (Part 5)

In the first four posts of my Mulling a TiVo Roamio series, I described how I intend to replace my current Verizon FiOS DVR box and two non-DVR boxes with gear I purchase from TiVo.

Verizon FiOS DVR
(Cisco CHS-435)

Specifically, I want to replace the Verizon DVR with a TiVo Roamio Plus, and the two other cable boxes with:

  • A new TiVo Mini, and
  • A 2010-model TiVo Premiere that I already have but use very little

I did a cost analysis in Mulling a TiVo Roamio (Part 4) in which I determined I'd be paying off the $550 cost of the new TiVo hardware in 3 yrs. and 4 mos., given that I'd be spending, on net, $14 a month less than my current $40/month outlay for a three-way multi-room DVR hookup from Verizon.

It worked out that way in large part because I long ago purchased the Premiere along with "lifetime" TiVo service for that unit. What would my scenario look like if I were instead starting from scratch?

Instead of relying on the Premiere (along with the TiVo MoCA network adapter it needs to be able to stream TV content from the Roamio) I would buy a second TiVo Mini (which, like the first, needs no adapter because it has MoCA support built in).

See Mulling a TiVo Roamio (Part 2) for an explanation of what MoCA is and why it is needed.

The hardware costs for this scenario would be:

TiVo Roamio Plus, $400
First TiVo Mini, $100
Second TiVo Mini, $100

Total: $600

The theoretical costs of TiVo service:

For the Roamio Plus, $15 a month
For the first Mini, $6 a month
For the second Mini, $6 a month

Total: $27 a month

Motorola "M-Card"
CableCARD is
the size of a calling card
Under these assumptions, you'd be paying Verizon $5 a month for the Roamio Plus's required CableCARD. Note that the two Mini units require no CableCARDs.

You'd be dropping the $40/month charge now paid for Verizon's boxes. So the saving in monthly outlays would come to $40 (present cost of Verizon boxes) - $27 (anticipated cost of TiVo service) - $5 (Verizon's charge for one CableCARD) = $8 per month.

At that rate, the $600 up-front cost of TiVo hardware would be offset over the course of ($600 ÷ $8/month in net savings) = 75 months, or six years and three months.

* * * * *

Assume, now, that you'd opt for TiVo "lifetime" service, not monthly service (see this page detailing TiVo's service plans):

For the Roamio Plus, $500
For the first Mini, $150
For the second Mini, $150

Total: $800
Total including cost of hardware: $800 + $600 = $1400

Now your current monthly outlay would be reduced by $40 (present cost of Verizon boxes) - $5 (Verizon's charge for one CableCARD) = $35 per month.

At that rate, the $1400 up-front costs of TiVo hardware and service would be offset over the course of ($600 ÷ $35/month in net savings) = 40 months, or three years and four months. Springing for TiVo lifetime service cuts your payback period nearly in half, from 75 months to 40. After 40 months, you could toss the TiVo boxes in the landfill and still have spent no more money than if you'd stayed with Verizon's gear!

* * * * *

And that's the lesson. Each potential consumer's details will differ, but the general principle here is that multi-room DVR service from a cable company might be costing you too much money. If you were to invest in TiVo gear, you might save on your overall monthly outlays. You might find that the cost of the TiVo option would be, over time, fully offset by those savings.

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