My Take On The End Of TiVo Rewards

As I reported earlier, TiVo is ending the TiVo Rewards program. I first signed up for TiVo Rewards in November, 2004, but I didn’t really make a big deal out of it. I didn’t yet have the site. I was very active in many TiVo lists, groups, communities, etc, but I didn’t really put my referral address out there much. So by September 2006 I’d only accumulated seven referrals, or 35,000 points, and I redeemed them for product lifetime on a new TiVo at that time. (Yes, the good old days when lifetime was available and just 35,000 points.) That month also happened to be the month the TiVo Series3 shipped, and my review of the same came out. To provide a home for the review I created the first real version of the site, and I included my referral address. That’s when I really started using the referral program.

For the past year and a half I have received many referrals from readers, for which I am very grateful. I don’t recommend TiVo for the rewards, but I’d be lying to say it isn’t nice to get something by way of thanks. I’ve been recommending TiVo since early 2002, when I got my first box, long before there was a TiVo Rewards program. And the termination of the program won’t change that either. I recommend TiVo because I genuinely feel it is a good product and worthy of my recommendation. TiVo Rewards was nice while it lasted, but I always viewed it as a fringe benefit. I’ll miss it, but I’m grateful for the time it was available and there are no hard feelings on my part.

But, since the announcement, I’ve seen posts from upset people at TiVoCommunity, like this winner:

Is TiVo offering us anything in compensation for removing this program? I assume not and hope to find a lawyer who would like a class action suit. It is very disgusting how a place offers something, gets you hooked, and then says you’re loosing that feature with nothing in return.

Words fail me. Other than to say this kind of attitude exemplifies the things wrong with our society. I’d say it lowers my opinion of humanity, but I’ve been online since 1989, so that’s no longer so easy to do. I’d almost be disappointed if some dimwit didn’t whip out the ‘class action’ call over this. I’m waiting for someone to compare TiVo to the Nazis. Still, it gets a deep sigh and a shake of the head.

And there there are articles such as “TiVo shuttering Rewards program, screwing its best customers” at Engadget. It contains the following:

This won’t matter to the vast majority of TiVo customers, no no, this decision only screws the company’s staunchest word-of-mouth advocates. You know the kind, the alpha geeks obsessed enough with the company’s products to others spend their time zealously recommending it to friends and family in the hopes of spreading the premium DVR experience (and earning some points while they’re at it).

You know, I kind of vaguely resemble that remark. OK, not so vaguely, I pretty much define“alpha geeks obsessed enough with the company’s products to others spend their time zealously recommending it to friends and family in the hopes of spreading the premium DVR experience”. Yet I feel distinctly unscrewed. Why should I feel screwed? I got points for something I was doing anyway, recommending TiVo. And I should feel screwed because now I can’t earn points, just like it was before they introduced TiVo Rewards? Why? Oh noes, TiVo isn’t giving me free stuff anymore! Those bastards! I bet they killed Kenny too!

There is a word for someone who recommends products only for a reward – shill. And while I have been accused of being a shill, more than once, I kindly disagree. I’ve gotten TiVo a bit upset with me more than once due to things I’ve posted. If I think TiVo got something wrong, I say so. When I disagree with TiVo’s approach or implementation, I say so. TiVo is definitely not perfect, I just think they’re the best DVR on the market today. And I’d even qualify that to say TiVo is not the best choice for everyone, and for some users one of the alternatives will be the best choice. I speak my mind, whether or not what I say is what TiVo would like to hear. I think that’s important – no one ever improves if they’re only surrounded by yes-men.

Bluntly, I question the sincerity of anyone who would say they’d stop recommending TiVo because TiVo Rewards is terminating. That sounds like the only reason they were recommending TiVo was to earn rewards, and that’s the wrong reason to recommend anything. If it isn’t worth of your recommendation without compensation, then recommending it for compensation shows a lack of integrity. It also means you’ve recommended something to others that you don’t actually believe in, which is dishonest. You’ve lied to those you recommended the product to by making them believe you support the product when you were in it for the rewards. In short, you’re a shill. If you genuinely believed in the product you wouldn’t stop recommending it just because you stopped earning rewards.

The fact is, the termination of TiVo Rewards doesn’t change the product. If it was worth recommending before, then it is still worth recommending. And if it wasn’t, then it isn’t now. Whether or not you recommend something should depend on your opinion of the product, not on how many rewards you can earn by pitching it. (I treat affiliate programs for the site the same way. I get pitches for a number of programs, but I only use those for sites, software, etc, I personally use or would recommend. If I wouldn’t shop there I’m not going to send others there just because they give me a cut.)

This is all just business. I talked to TiVoPony by phone on Friday and confirmed that TiVo is developing a new loyalty program, which will launch later this year. As part of the switch they are terminating their relationship with their current rewards program administrator. That requires closing out the program, which is why everyone needs to redeem their points before the program officially closes out. There isn’t any malicious intent or conspiracy, just changes in the business. There has been some crazy speculation on why TiVo is doing this, a lot of it giving TiVo far too little credit for intelligence. TiVo certainly knows how the program has performed, and what their return has been. As they’re switching to a new loyalty program (and no, I still haven’t been able to pry details out of TiVo), they must feel the new program will provide them with better results. They’re not throwing out the entire concept of a loyalty program, they’re going to try something different.

Remember the point of the program is not really to reward loyal users, but to drive business growth by rewarding loyal users. Don’t confuse the ends and the means. Maybe they weren’t getting a good return on the current program. Or maybe they feel the new program will simply provide a better return. Either way it would make sense to terminate the current program. There is no reason to be angry, or feel ‘screwed’, unless you were using the program for the wrong reasons.

So I’m fine with it, and I’m hopeful that the new loyalty program will be interesting. I look forward to seeing what form the new program takes. I’m going to get my parents a TiVo, as I promised, only now I’ll get them one of the new lifetime TiVo HD bundles. instead of a Series3. I might pick up a TiVo HD for myself, I’m sure I’ll get an HDTV for the bedroom eventually. And I’ll be doing some giveaways on the site for those who leave real comments on the blog. (Hint.)

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • ADIDAIllini

    What do you mean real comments?

    Anyways, I have to agree with you, its like the old saying, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” Tivo didn’t have to give me rewards points. Most other electronics companies don’t. I have yet to receive anything from Sony and three of my family / friends have bought identical TVs to mine based on my recommendation.

  • Alex

    well said mz. I pretty much agree with what you have to say. I think it would good idea for TiVo to officially announce that they’re looking into a new rewards program (other then telling you). Getting rid of the program without giving a good reason is kind of crappy….

  • MegaZone

    ADIDAIllini – Spam doesn’t count, for example. (Though I tend to delete those anyway.) And I’d rather not have folks posting “Oh, posting just so I can be eligible!” posts, but real comments with content. :-)

    Exactly – I’ve been a big Blu-ray booster, but the BDA isn’t offering me freebies. I recommend Slingbox to people, but Sling doesn’t have a rewards program. I’ve recommended Samsung HDTV’s since I got mine, and they’re not giving me kickbacks.

  • MHA

    I’m with you completely. I was recommending TiVo to people before there was a TiVo Rewards program, and I’ll still be doing so when it’s gone, or replaced, or whatever. Meantime, the rewards program has treated me very well along the way, as I’ve said, and I have no regrets.

  • vadergirl

    Long time reader, first time poster ;-)

    Thank you MegaZone for being a voice of reason! I never participated in the Rewards program (signed up, but never got any referrals) but am a major advocate for Tivo. I too am amazed at our society’s entitlement complex.

    Anyway, keep up the good fight!

  • 20TIL6

    Like you, I never recommended TiVo for the reward points.

    The product and service are so good that I just wanted to share my enjoyment with friends and family.
    Out of 10 or so recommendations, I’ve collected only a couple or so of referrals.
    Most of my earlier referrals were for the DirecTV/TiVo units, which is how I started with TiVo.
    I knew those did not count, but now I’m on standalone units, and I’ve managed to bring some of them over.
    I’ve helped a handful of new customers get lifetime on new TiVo units, I’d buy the service, then transfer ownership.
    I did not intend to break any rules, but I made nothing from it, just wanted to help folks get what they wanted.
    And help TiVo too. I tossed those referral points your way. Hope you used them for something you would enjoy.

    I think the one reward I would have liked to have gotten would be that toaster that burns the TiVo guy onto the bread.

  • James

    Thank You MZ

    I have been posting on TiVo Community with these same remarks. Why so many people are in such an uproar over this is astonishing to me and only upstaged by their ridiculous comments. Some of the things I’ve read over the past couple of days leave me shaking my head in disbelief. I am an avid TiVo supporter and in my personal opinion it is the “best of bread” in the DVR market and I have been a loyal customer for nearly 4 years and do not intend to change just because the rewards program is gone regardless how good it’s been to me.

    Please exclude me from your giveaway, I have been very successful in accruing referral points and would prefer others to get the TiVo toys you’ll be giving out!

    Thanks Again

  • James

    edit typo

    “Best of Breed” Oops I saw someone post about a TiVo toaster… So I’m just gonna blame 20TIL6 for putting bread in my mind.

  • Matt Schulte

    I only recently started racking up reward points, only I did it the other way, with the credit card. I started off hoping to gain enough points for a Series 3 and now that the TiVo HD has come out I have enough points to pick up two of these, but I am wary of doing so. Something tells me that there is something better around the corner, especially in light of the recent DirecTV purchase. I’m wondering if maybe I should spend my reward points on some of the other offerings. On the other hand, if I pick up an HD and they come out with something better, there’s always eBay!

  • MegaZone


    I wouldn’t worry about it too much. From what I know, the TiVo HD will be TiVo’s main platform for a while. Even if they did a new box for DirecTV, I’m sure it’d be based on the TiVo HD. They’ve engineered the TiVo HD as a reference platform to use for other developments. It is the basis for the Australian box, and their DVB-T reference box. And that can also be tweaked to handle DVB-S (satellite, just not the system used in the US). If they did a new box for DirecTV it’d probably be a TiVo HD with the tuners replaced with DirecTV tuners, and one of the CableCARD slots replaced by the DTV access card slot. (The other one being deleted.) I don’t know how soon we’d see anything, even if they did reconcile – and they probably wouldn’t show up as a reward since they’d be under the DirecTV aegis, not TiVo.

  • Phil


    I agree 100%. I have been quite successful in referring people and earning points. I will continue to refer people long after rewards is gone. I too refer it for what it is, not for what I’m getting (the swag is great though). I have stopped visiting tivocommunity because there are so many whiners. They’ve outnumbered the good people. The post you quoted is typical of the less than intelligent people that this world is filled with. A class action suit, is he serious???? The funny thing is that their are probably attorneys out there that would try to make a case out of this. Keep up the great work, I love this site!!!

  • Vince

    I’ve been tooting the TiVo horn for years and I’ve yet to ever receive any reward points. Does that bother me? Not at all, I’m just happy to help other people find out about the joy that is TiVo.

  • Nate

    I agree with you 100%. I’ve always referred people to TiVo, and only got a handful of referral points. I’d show everyone who would sit in front of my TV the TiVo and show them the “experience”. That won’t change regardless of there being any referral program or not. The post you quoted above just goes to show how society has changed for the worse. The entitlement that everyone feels they deserve or are owed just makes me want to vomit. Keep up the good work MZ!

  • Craig Eagle

    I have to say that I agree with you to a point. The one thing I am upset about is the Credit Card. I applied only because I wanted to get TiVo points. Now they are cancelling the card and sending me a card I don’t particulalry care about. This will affect my FICO score at least temporarily. All that said, I am not going to stop recommending TiVo. I eblieve in the product and I believe in the company. I also believe that they will come out with a new program that will probably make me just as happy as the old program.
    – Craig

  • Troy

    I’m like @Nate, showing most friends who visit my house what TiVo is all about. Once I had my first two friends as referrals, it was a nice bonus to start earning rewards for something I would have done regardless, pimp the TiVo experience. I was suddenly hooked on the concept of earning free stuff. So I started my own blog and tried to gain a few more referrals in the process. It worked a little, I got an iPod shuffle and then set my sights on the S3. Never made it, so with 65000 in the bank, I got the HD, expander drive, coasters, and plush dolls on the way. I just wish they would have coordinated this “new” program at the same time the current program is ending. Then they could have given one more option to transfer any existing points to the new program in some fashion. Kind of a bummer that you are forced to use up all accumulated points and start from scratch. I’ll still promote TiVo going forward, and just want to thank them for a great program while it lasted.

  • Zathrus

    As with the others here, I agree MZ — I’ve been promoting TiVo since around 2000 (when I got my S1) and have gotten several friends and family members to buy one, all prior to the TiVo Rewards program. The sad thing is, I signed up for it immediately and still haven’t gotten a single point — because all my friends and family who want a TiVo have one now. I’ve even changed jobs a couple times and everyone at my new workplace already has a TiVo (or some inferior cable co DVR, but they can’t be convinced of the advantages). In my 6 person group at work 5 of us have TiVos… tough crowd to get points from!

  • lockdoc

    I am curious if this is a warning sign that TIVO may not be doing so well. I hope not because I was looking in to getting a TivoHD. I have already been bitten(somewhat) by Toshiba/HD DVD and I would not be happy if Tivo went the same way.

  • MegaZone

    I don’t think this is any reason to be concerned.

  • Joel H

    I love TiVo – it is nice to know that some people recommend it on the merits of the service, not the ability to get a free glow remote

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