TiVo Appears Effectively Dead In Australia

Having dominated the US market for personal video recorders (PVRs) throughout the early 2000s, hopes were high for TiVo when it launched in Australia, backed by the Seven Network, back in 2008. But Tivo never got any significant traction, and almost five years down the track, the service appears to be close to death. You can't even buy a new TiVo recorder anymore.

Editor of TechAU and friend of Lifehacker Jason Cartwright noted on Twitter today that the Australian Tivo site no longer lists Harvey Norman (or its subsidiary Joyce Mayne) as a retail partner. Harvey Norman was the initial launch partner for TiVo back in 2008, but at the peak of TiVo's marketing activity JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys and Myer also stocked the product. It subsequently reverted to a Harvey Norman-only affair, but now even that option has evaporated. No TiVo products appear in a search of the Harvey Norman site, and an earlier investigation by Jason suggests stores don't have any leftover stock either.

Nor can you buy a new TiVo box from TiVo itself. The online store only lists accessories: the TiVo remote and the Desktop Plus software for downloading content from an existing TiVo box.

TiVo also appears to have lost traction in other ways. It has stopped listing ISPs who have partnered with it to offer unmetered downloads for its CASPA download service, a list which used to include Internode, iiNet, Primus and Adam, as well as a handful of smaller players.

With the digital TV rollout due to be complete by the end of 2013, setting up a PVR these days doesn't require much more effort than plugging a USB stick into a TV set. TiVo definitely has a superior interface, but that hasn't been enough to inspire people to buy the hardware, even though (unlike the original US model) there's no ongoing subscription fees. TiVo isn't actually officially dead in Australia yet. But the signs don't look good.


Comments

    A shame really. The Tivo's charm is in the software and interface - it is amazingly easy to use and has a very high WAF for this reason. It also has an almost spooky ability to guess which new shows you might like to watch. I hope they keep the EPG and back end support going.

    I don't know if I'd call tivo a superior interface now that xbmc has native PVR client support.

      Have you tried the native PVR client in XBMC 12? I'd call it an alpha release at best. But looking forward it is an exciting option.

        I'd used it in previous releases when it *was* alpha. Was assuming it'd already improved. Thanks for the correction. :-)

    It was waay too expensive for what you got. Now everything has a PVR. ICETV still works though with a windows media centre. Why HTPC's will still rule the world for a long time yet.

      ^ this.
      I don't know what they go for now, but I know when they launched they were listed @ $699...

    This is the case for pretty much all PVR's. Or at the very least, all PVR's that come with half decent features.

    When my current BeyonWiz DP-P1 gives up the ghost I'm worried as to whether or not I'll be able to find a single device that is both PVR and Network Media Player (with able to read files from an SMB network share). Even with BeyonWiz it's getting hard to find them brand new, they're mostly second hand and/or refurbished.

    The functionality of Network Media Players and PVR's scarily to this day seem to be mutually exclusive, yet neither is all that complicated. XBMC is only just starting to add in PVR features, but these are still way too fiddly for my liking.

    Tivo was just another Freeview bitch anyway! I like to be able to skip past the adds.

    My mother won't be very happy when she can no longer record her shows!

    Surely if Tivo does "die" they could at least have the common decency to push one last update that puts users on another EPG service, so their programs can continue to record.

    Or lifehacker could publish an article letting us know how to hack the box and have another EPG service record the shows.

      A similar thing happened to the UK service. Some company purchased the rights to sell TiVos in the UK but after a few years decided to exit the market. As I understand it, at that point TiVo itself (ie. the US company) took over and kept providing guide data to their UK users even though the company selling/marketing it couldn't have cared less.

      One would hope they did the same thing for the Australian market if Hybrid TV decided to close their doors completely.

      Aw - does LH have any suggestions for pleasing JJ's mum? I have a few.

        That is absolutely what she said.

        Not sure if intentional..

    So for us current Tivo owners - what do people recommend as a replacement PVR?
    Do you really need a guide service such as ICETV or is the EPG that comes free on Digital TV good enough for season passes?

      The big thing to consider is "Freeview" you can only FF through their ads. Any box that doesn't use Freeview will allow you to skip through them. My Beyonwiz's allow me to zap them in seconds. Most non "Freeview" boxes will too. BTW those adds they put out saying how free "freeview" is are a flaming joke! Except for that song, that's awesome.. :)

        I never found the 'skipping' feature on any of the PVRs I've had with it very accurate, I've always found it quicker to use the FF on the TiVo. (I've found the TiVos fast forward to be blazingly fast compared to other PVRs I've had our T-Box doesn't even come close when it comes to skipping (sorry fast forwarding for those advocating dedicated add skip features) through adds)

          Best part of FF is the TiVo backs up a few seconds when you hit play. Best PVR i have used (about 5 of em) I have two running all recording different channels best thing since sliced bread!

    Hybrid TV (the company selling TiVos in Australia) seemed to do a fairly good job at running it into the ground.

    Rewind back (non pun intended) to when TiVo was first released in the US in the late 90s, it was a very futuristic product; it was one of the first PVRs -- the idea of 'pausing' live TV, for example was unheard of.

    Other features that we take for granted with today's PVRs started with TiVo, so it was able to get large market share in the US, everyone loved it.

    By the time Hybrid TV decided to sell them in Australia (about 2008ish?), PVRs had already been around in the Australian market for a while - so when their marketing said "You can pause live TV!" consumers were like "eh? another device that does that?"

    In my believe, Hybrid TV made three critical mistakes:

    1. They released the product to the Australian market too late, and didn't make much of an attempt to keep up with the US hardware. Had they released it in early 2000, back before PVRs had entered the market they would have sold a ton of them and people would continue to buy them because it would be a trusted name people were happy with. The TiVo you purchased in Australia was largely the same as the "Series 2" hardware in the US; and at the time of release, the US already had the "Series 3" on the market. Since then it's gone even further, but Hybrid TV didn't do anything about keeping up with it.

    2. Unlike the US version, Hybrid TV only supported free-to-air digital TV, it didn't support Foxtel. I'd imagine this is largely due to the murky state of Australian copyright law at the time it was first released whereby EPG data could be copyrighted by the company producing it (Foxtel), who would never have licensed it in this situation (they're a competitor, after all). However, after that ruling was changed in the High Court, Hybrid TV didn't revisit the decision, they just kept using the same old hardware.

    3. They failed to innovate; they released their CASPA service, but that was just a joke. Overpriced video-on-demand; there's a ton of better products out there. But when they failed there, they just seemed to give up and left the company to die rather than attempt another strategy.

    It makes me sad, because I love the TiVo product, Hybrid TV just had no idea what they were doing.

    There's no winners here, it's just a sad story all around.

      "Sophie's Choice" is a sad story; this was just gross mismanagement.

    I think this article might be a little misleading, You might want to speak to Tivo directly to find out about the future of the EPG. However if you check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TiVo you'll see that UK sales stopped in 2002(?) but the EPG continued to run until 2011 and now there's an open source alternative http://www.altepg.com/.

    Further Harvey Norman in knox city still has 4-5 1TB units on the floor. so there are some still out there..

    Only have a TiVO because I won one on Sunrise "Joke Of The Day". Good product, but not worth the price they were.

      i brought mine, still fully boxed from a friend at work who won it. i paid $150 for it and absolutely love it.

    My parents have 2 TiVos and Dad swears by them. First upgrade you do is put in a larger drive any they became massively more useful. One of the things that no one seems to have mentioned is the TiVo suggestions that you got by giving things thumbs up and thumbs down. Between the suggestions and a 500GB hard drive, you never were short of anything to watch if you were a bit bored.

    Can't fast forward ads. Was never going to take off.

      Myth - TiVo FF through adds at a blitzing speed, way quicker then the add skipping functions on other PVRs I've had or seen and way more accurate at stopping when the program restarts

      TiVO in Australia doesn't have the ability to skip forward (I believe the US version can skip forward 30 sec making it a matter of a few clicks to skip an ad break). TiVO in Australia can fast forward ads.

        Yes it does, press FF (very fast) and then jump button, just below the FF. Also backs up when you see the program starting after FF so you don't miss the action.

          I can't get this to work.. Just jumps forward 15 minutes at a time!

        google "tivo hacks" and you'll find how to ff 30 second blocks. It's really easy to do, about 6 keystrokes on the remote..:)

    I love my TiVo it's by far and away the best PVR I've had (or have) and I have gone through a few over the years with 3 TVs in the house. Pity the importing company stuffed up their appeal in Australia with only an older model available and seriously limiting where you could buy one (let alone pricing themselves out of the market etc)
    Lets hope somebody reliable takes over I don't want to go back to stuffing about with ICE TV etc or be stuck with something like Telstra's T-Box horrible UI.

    My TiVo is not only a brilliant PVR but it is also my favourite and most reliable bit of tech in the last 5 years. It'll be a sad day when it finally dies. I simply have no idea what to replace it with?

    crist, it failed because no one wants to watch shitty tv twice. it's bad enough once.

    I was an idiot and paid 600 bux for a PVR once! Never again am I buying a PVR I have noreal need for one now and besides I have htpcs ps3 all set up to do as I wish. Pvrs are a bit of a joke now as the internet has basically taken place of them. Anything I may miss I can usually find ad free online too easy. Most TV shown on our networks is either completely outdated or utter crap! Goodbye and good riddance TiVo the sooner the better! If it wasn't such an expensive product then I'm sure ppl would have flocked to it!

    People who rely on one technology or service, expect it to last forever and then get heated up when it goes the way of the dodo are saps! Choose what you want to watch. Access the media files however you choose and watch it on your media device (if the one you have is not yet obsolete!). Don't sell your soul to any one service!

    I was one of the original TiVo Australia testers and received my TiVo long before they went on sale here, the guys at Hybrid TV and Ch7 had to do a lot of work to get it ready for sale.

    I owned a Topfield and wintal prior to having the TiVo and the TiVo hands down had the best HD receiver of the lot the quality when it first launched all most channels had a dedicated HD channel was awesome. However once channels started to decommission their HD channels the TV started to just become a bit of a drag if you bad a Foxtel IQ, which although is a bit clunky to use, basically does all the same things.

    One major issue that I found working as a retailer, was that Hybrid TV never made available demo units for stores to use. This may have been because they required the net to connect to their database. Once you see how in depth the suggestions worked and how simple the interface was, spending another $200 on a PVR was easy to do. Once Tivo knew the types of shows you liked, it was great to find 3 - 4 shows daily recorded that you liked. The unit I bought has worked flawlessly for the past 4 years. As the range of TV channels increased, the better the unit became. There is a lot of work behind the scenes too with the EPG database which is far more comprehensive to most epgs.

    TiVo is awesome, especially if you have a 2-4 year old, you just can't have to many eps of Pepper Pig, Charlie & Lola or Little Princess on hand. It is a pity they never updated the interface to make it less circa 1999, and wifi remote control would be great also (like they have in the States). Is there another free to air alternative with the same functions out there?

    I haven't been out in Australia for too long.. but for the time I've been here I have used the Digital Foxtel & Digital Optus.. and I have hated them both. We've had nothing but trouble with the boxes which have left to constant phone calls that always lead to a waste of our time. So, I've been contemplating TiVo... but don't know enough about how it runs in Australia. If anyone knows of a link I can learn more about it, could you please share? I'd love to investigate on it a little. Thanks. :)

      Have you read the article? Tivo is dead in Australia! Its running now, but there is no telling when the EPG services will be shut down, or stop being supported.

    Tivo does have a wifi remote! There is an app called Roomie which has TiVO support so you can use IP control. It is also supported on Vuze and on most NAS drives (Netgear and Synology) and you can stream directly to it if you purchase the home networking package which I know is a rort at $99 I bought mine for $430 from Harvey Norman with the WiFi dongle so it was competitive on price. Fast forward is plenty fast. Interface is intuitive. I hope mine doesn't die anytime soon!

    Thanks Burt, great tip on the FFx3 + skip button it works for the 30 second skip great to know. I recommend TiVo If you are satisfied with the freeview content it is the best and easiest to set up and use and really hope the rumours of its demise are not true. My TiVo 360 is 4 years old and going strong never had a problem that a reset would not fix and I would not hesitate in recommending this product.

    Just stumbled upon this article and was very dissapointed! Tivo is by far the best PVR out there. To add onto the previous poster's points, other reasons I believe it hasn't taken off;

    - the cost! I got one last year (must have been right before harvey dropped them) and it was 700 or 800. I only got it because I did my research and it stood head and shoulders above all else. But yeah it's not cheap enough for the masses.

    - foxtel in the big cities coming thru IQ. I moved from Sydney to Newcastle and as most would know the network FTA channels are available thru fox in Sydney, but not regionally. My opinion is the type of person who would spend 700 or so on a tivo more than likely has Foxtel too. If I still lived in Sydney I would have no need for a tivo.

    Also, do any of these other PVRs have web apps to program recordings, view guides on your phone etc?

    Sincerely,
    A tivo lover :(

    I only just found out TiVo is no longer available in Australia! I went to try and get a new remote or have mine repaired and was told to google what to do in this situation. Does anyone know where to go or what to do in this case?

      Tivo Australia still has the remote for sale.

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