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TiVo's lifetime service plan dies

DVR provider to abandon popular lifetime service plan but wants to keep attracting customers with free boxes.

TiVo is phasing out its popular lifetime service plan and implementing a series of flexible pricing options that include the company's hardware, the DVR maker announced on Wednesday.

For some time, customers of the leading digital video recorder technology and service provider have been able to pay a $299 flat fee for lifetime TiVo service. But the Alviso, Calif., company said it plans to eliminate that option as of next week.

"Clearly, it's something that's had some popularity with our subscriber base," said Todd Juenger, TiVo's vice president of strategic planning.

"We understand it's a great value, but in balancing trying to provide customers with great value and our own business interests, we think it was too far in favor of good value to make sense for us financially," Juenger said.

TiVo customers who already have the lifetime plan will not be affected, according to the company.

Now, TiVo said it hopes to keep attracting new customers by offering several service packages that include its 80-hour Series2 DVR boxes in the price and that therefore require no up-front hardware investment.

Customers signing a one-year plan will pay $19.95 a month for TiVo service and a box, while a two-year commitment lowers the price to $18.95 a month, and a three-year agreement to $16.95 a month.

The company's decision to include its equipment as part of service plans is not a surprise. Last month, CEO Tom Rodgers hinted that the company was leaning that way.

In a statement Wednesday, Rodgers said, "Over the past several months, we have done extensive research on our pricing strategy and distribution model with a focus on finding the simplest and most efficient way to increase sales and drive penetration of the TiVo service."

Last week, TiVo announced KidZone, a service that enables parents to search for programming appropriate for their children and separate those shows from content recorded for adults.