Nuvyyo to stop offering lifetime subscription option on Tablo devices

A Tablo Dual Lite review unit supplied by Nuvyyo. (Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk)

Nuvyyo, the Canadian company behind the popular Tablo line of over-the-air digital video recorders and streamers, says it will stop offering customers the option of purchasing a lifetime television guide subscription by the end of August.

In a statement to The Desk, a spokesperson said lifetime subscriptions helped encourage customers to buy a Tablo device early on, but ultimately proved to be a poor source of recurring revenue for the company.

Tablo is a small box that connects to an antenna and receives free, over-the-air broadcast stations like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and PBS in the United States and CBC, CTV and Global in Canada. The Tablo DVR comes in two varieties: A traditional model that allows customers to watch broadcast TV on a streaming device like a Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV (Google TV) or Apple TV or on their phones and tablets, and a version that includes an integrated HDMI port for plugging directly into the back of a TV set.

Both varieties allow customers to watch and record content without a separate fee. Nuvyyo offers customers the option of purchasing a premium guide data subscription that unlocks additional features for their Tablo hardware, including a 14-day television guide (the free version is limited to 24 hours), thumbnails for television shows and movies, dedicated menus for prime-time programs and movies and the ability to use a feature called Tablo Connect that allows users to stream live and recorded content via the Tablo app when they’re away from home.

The premium guide data subscription costs $5 a month or $50 a year. For several years, Nuvyyo also allowed customers with their streaming Tablo boxes to pay a one-time fee of $150 (which was later increased to $170) for the premium guide data perk, which essentially eliminated any recurring fee associated with their account.

The lifetime subscription perk was nice, because it eliminated the need for customers to pay any additional fees in order to use their Tablo devices to its fullest potential. The company also allowed it to be transferrable between devices, meaning if a customer bought a new Tablo, they could contact customer service and have the subscription moved from their old device to their new one.

While the perk was a good value for customers, it impacted Nuvyyo’s ability to generate recurring revenue from long-term users of its Tablo boxes. Earlier this month, Nuvyyo announced it would stop offering lifetime subscriptions for customers who purchased a new or refurbished Tablo on or after August 30. Current customers with a lifetime subscription on their devices won’t be impacted, the company said.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson said moving away from the lifetime subscription model will help ensure Nuvyyo has a good stream of recurring revenue, which the company will use to provide better customer support and additional development of its current and future Tablo models and the associated Tablo app.

“We mostly want to make sure that we can keep providing things like in-house support and updates over the long haul,” the spokesperson said.

It will also help eliminate confusion among Tablo’s different offerings: The lifetime subscription was never offered to customers who purchased the HDMI version of its hardware, which upset some users when they bought the device, only to learn that they had to choose between the monthly or yearly guide subscription.

“This simplifies our product offerings and puts us in a good position to make sure both new and old customers can expect the same level of service over the coming decade,” the spokesperson affirmed.

Customers who purchase a Tablo streaming device before August 30 will still have the option of paying $170 if they want to add a lifetime premium guide subscription to their account, and that subscription will still be transferrable if they buy another Tablo device in the future.

Tablo devices are sold directly through their website, with the two-tuner Tablo Dual Lite streaming box costing $150 plus tax and the four-tuner Tablo Quad streaming box costing $200 plus tax. Both versions require separate external hard drives in order to record content, though Tablo also offers models that include integrated hard drives. Some Tablo models are also sold by online retailer Amazon.