A TiVo primer for Canadians

By Peter Nowak,
With the launch of TiVo in Canada last week, Canadians are now spoiled for choice when it comes to PVRs and so-called "media extenders," which are devices that take all that digital content off your computer and put it onto your TV and home theatre system. Joe Miller, TiVo's senior-vice-president of consumer sales and affiliate marketing, walked me through the device today and fielded some questions. Here is the quick and dirty paraphrased version of our conversation.

Q: What does the TiVO do?

A: Its basic use is recording TV shows, much like a VCR, with a host of other features. The viewer can watch one channel while recording another, although satellite TV subscribers don't get this feature. It can also be set to automatically record a show every time it airs. The TiVo is quasi-intelligent and updated regularly through its broadband connection, so if the show changes dates or channels, it will still be recorded.

The TiVo also has Wi-Fi so it can be hooked up to a home network, so music, video and photos stored on the computer can be played on the TV. There's also TiVo-to-Go that allows recorded shows to be transferred to a PC or laptop, where they can be viewed or burned to DVD. The TiVo can also be accessed remotely through a website and programmed to record shows.

Interestingly, TiVo's interface completely replaces the television provider's, so it uses its own channel and listings guide. And yes, it works with every kind of television service in Canada - from rabbit-ear antennae to analogue cable to digital cable and satellite.

Q: The Canadian TV market is very different from the U.S. Many Canadians already complain about high TV bills - won't they be put off by the monthly subscription fee?

A: The device itself is $200, and the monthly fee is about $13. The fee comes down with longer-term contracts, amounting to just over $8 a month on a three-year deal. Miller says consumers in the U.S. have found the monthly fee still presents a value proposition, given all the extra features. Plus, the device and a yearly subscription together are still cheaper than many PVRs out there.

Q: There's a high-definition TiVo box in the U.S., but not in Canada. Is the standard-definition version basically testing the waters here?

A: More or less, yes. Miller says TiVo definitely wants to release its HD box here sooner rather than later, but there are also technology issues to deal with. Cable subscribers in the U.S. have a cable card in their television receivers, whereas Canadians do not. A special design is needed to account for this.

Q: The TiVo replaces the television service provider's interface and also competes with their own PVRs. It wouldn't be surprising to see pushback or resistance from Canadian TV providers as a result.

A: In the U.S., Miller says there's a "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" mentality starting to take root. Comcast and Cox Communications have acknowledged that TiVo is superior to their offerings, so they've agreed to use TiVo software on their own PVRs. He wouldn't say how Canadian providers feel about TiVo's entry. He did say he thinks the TiVo adds to what the providers offer and encourages consumers to spend more on additional tiers of service.

Q: It sure looks like just about everything the TiVo does would be illegal under Canada's proposed copyright reform rules (which, incidentally, have been scrapped until at least the end of January). How closely is TiVo as a company following those developments?

A: Miller somewhat sidestepped the question, saying that the company exceeds industry requirements in providing copyright protection on what viewers record.

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.



Here on the East coast, Eastlink cable has been offering a DVR rental for $15/month and it is a high definition box. You don't have to purchase the box either, although Tivo's $200 purchase price is at least half of the cost of a regular DVR.

I understand the software is really intuitive with Tivo but I figured out my VCR's settings 20 years ago so I can probably figure out a regular DVR.

With a monthly rental fee, I just don't see the advantage to Tivo, especially for since it is not HD and doesn't work with Bell or Starchoice. I think they missed the boat by launching so late in Canada.

Posted December 14, 2007 07:46 AM



If the new copyright legislation is passed, Tivo and PVRs will be illegal in Canada. Time shifting of TV programs is specifically mentioned as one of the many things consumers are not allowed to do under the new legislation.

Posted December 14, 2007 02:58 PM


$200 would be money well spent if my understanding is correct that Rogers TV listing will disappear along with my frustration of trying to find out what is scheduled before the first 15 minutes of the program is over.

Posted December 14, 2007 07:00 PM



Canada's move to HD continues to be surprisingly slow. Although, now it seems that all new tv replacements are HD. HD services are more expensive because of the cost of installing services. That initial cost though should be absorbed and savings passed on to customers in short order for large corporations. Rogers/ Bell etc, should lower their price if people elect to use Tivos. Bell could charge slightly higher rates to those using their lame PVR functionality. Soon we should be questioning why we still have analog. Instead we'll be questioning what this mystic HD our friends from the south have. Technological advancements should be a key governmental initiative. Lets only hope the time off will allow for the many necessary changes to the Copyright bill. The adverse effects of a bill, like this will certainly halt advanced technology development in Canada. Question: How does an unlawful bill transformed into law, enforceable only through infringing Constitutional rights work?

Posted December 16, 2007 11:08 PM


Does TiVo allow me to watch television programs without the commercials. If so where do I sign up?

Posted December 17, 2007 03:26 PM



@ Guy,

The PVR does not do time shifting for you, but rather the Cable companies. I'm a Shaw subscriber in the Greater Vancouver region and they offer the East Coast shows from Fox / NBC etc and I use my TiVo to record those shows 3 hrs ahead of local programming. Also, TiVo has been available in Canada for at least 2 years. I purchased my TiVo box in Washington state in and have used it locally since then.

Posted December 17, 2007 03:37 PM



Just got TiVo and I love it already except that I just discovered that I can't use the Amazon Unbox feature. Hope they get that figured out soon.

Posted December 21, 2007 12:53 PM



Sorry TIVO you are too late.

I'd love a TIVO but I have HD TV (and an HD PVR) and as far as I understand if you want the digital channels with your cable the TIVO box does not work, as you have to have the digital box of the cable provider to decode the signal.

So TIVO doesn't work with Bell/Expressview/Rogers/Shaw/Videotron or other providers if you want more than basic cable. If you only have basic cable I bet you don't need a fancy VCR to record all your shows.

Posted December 23, 2007 12:37 PM



We have had a Tivo for a year now (don't ask) and I don't know how I ever lived without it. It's a truly brilliant device and no, I don't have anything to do with the company, I just hate endless commercials!

Posted December 28, 2007 08:26 PM

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment


Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy


World »

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Crash cause coverup likely impossible video
Concerns have been raised over whether pro-Russian separatists may have tampered with or hauled away debris from the Malaysia airline crash site. But some experts say there should still be enough evidence scattered about to get answers about the crash.
Gaza conflict: Israeli military confirms soldier missing video
Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, dashing hopes of a pause in the fighting, as the military said one of its soldiers was missing, presumed dead, following clashes with Hamas militants.
Updated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Train carrying victims arrives in Kharkiv video
A train carrying the remains of victims of a Malaysian plane downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine arrived in the government-held city of Kharkiv, a Reuters witness said.
more »

Canada »

Loretta Saunders's father can't 'handle' being in courtroom
The father of Loretta Saunders, the Halifax student whose slaying renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, says he can't bear to be in court as the case against her accused killers is outlined this week in Halifax.
Photos Grizzly bear 'highway' uncovered in B.C. rainforest audio
New research from the Heiltsuk First Nation points to a sort of "bear highway" through the Great Bear Rainforest on B.C.'s Central Coast.
Wife of Canadian teacher detained in Jakarta pleads for husband's release video audio
The wife of a Canadian teacher detained in Indonesia on allegations of child sexual assault is pleading for her husband's release.
more »

Politics »

Mike Duffy charged Senate to attend personal funerals, RCMP say video audio
The RCMP served Mike Duffy’s lawyer with the official charge sheet early Monday, outlining the 31 criminal code violations the suspended former Conservative senator is accused of committing.
PEN Canada hit with political-activities tax audit
The Canada Revenue Agency has launched a political-activities audit of PEN Canada, a small charity promoting freedom of expression that has criticized the Harper government in the past.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Canada to strengthen sanctions on Russia video
Canada is ready to level more sanctions against Russia in the wake of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Eastern Ukraine, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Monty Python performs last show ever at London's O2 Arena video
The five surviving members of Monty Python took their final bows in London Sunday after 50 years of performing as the iconic comedy troupe.
Orange is the New Black popularity forces jail to change jump suits
A Michigan sheriff says he's trading his inmates' orange jumpsuits for black-and-white stripes, in part due to pop culture.
The International 4: DOTA 2 winners Team Newbee crowned video
Champions have been declared at The International 4 in Seattle, Wash., with a team of video-game wizards from China besting a rival squad from their homeland to take home more than $5 million.
more »

Technology & Science »

Beef's environmental costs called exceptionally high
Interested in eating more sustainably? A new study compares the environmental impact of beef, dairy, pork, poultry and eggs.
Global heat record broken for June, following record May
The globe is on a hot streak, setting a heat record in June. That's after the world broke a record in May.
The International 4: DOTA 2 winners Team Newbee crowned video
Champions have been declared at The International 4 in Seattle, Wash., with a team of video-game wizards from China besting a rival squad from their homeland to take home more than $5 million.
more »

Money »

Netflix passes 50 million member milestone in 2nd quarter
Netflix announced it has more than 50 million members in 40 countries worldwide as it released its second-quarter earnings today.
New CN Rail sees profit spike 18% on record freight volume
Canadian National Railway second-quarter profit increased 18 per cent to $847 million on higher freight volumes, mainly from the record Canadian grain crop.
Jacob given another month by court to restructure
Women's fashion retailer Jacob Inc. has been given a month to come up with a restructuring plan to stave off its financial problems and keep some of its stores open.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Recap David Ortiz leads Red Sox’s destruction of Blue Jays video
David Ortiz hit the 452nd and 453rd home runs of his career, moving past Boston great Carl Yastrzemski into 36th place on the all-time list, and the Red Sox won their fifth straight game Monday night, routing the Toronto Blue Jays 14-1.
You Gotta See This LeBron James ‘plays’ piano with China's star pianist
Fresh off his decision to go back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and trip to the World Cup final, basketball star LeBron James began his tour of China on Monday where he was met by pianist Lang Lang.
Blog 30 Thoughts: Defencemen cash in on free agency
In his final 30 Thoughts column of the season, Elliotte Friedman discusses how the NHL's free agency period has been kind to blue-liners and gives some bonus entries to get us through the summer.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »