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PVR Category Hit By Price Wars

10/22/2001 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Pricing on personal video recorders this month began reaching bargain-basement levels as service providers scramble to increase their service subscription revenue by the end of the year.

The price movers, some observers said, also came in reaction to rebate offers on Panasonic's ReplayTV ShowStopper hard-drive video recorders, advertised for as low as $349.95 after rebates, with no additional monthly subscription charge.

Philips, then, decided to remove its minimum advertised pricing program on the Philips-branded TiVo/DirecTV combination hard-drive recorder and satellite decoder (model DSR-6000R). As a result, Circuit City this month began offering the product for $99.95, plus subscription fees.

John Strobel, Philips PVR marketing VP, said demand had increased substantially since the MAP was dropped and Circuit City began its low-ball offer. He said Circuit City, not Philips, directed the $99.95 selling price for the unit, adding that other retailers are selling the product at a variety of discounted prices.

A recent inspection of Circuit City outlets showed the chain is selling the product at $99.95, although the unit was displayed with no special signage to indicate the offer on shelves of some stores we visited. In fact, Sony's equivalent product (model SAT T60), which is selling for $399.95, was given top billing on shelves and on the Circuit City Web site. Circuit City is offering a $200 mail-in rebate on the SAT T60, bringing the final price to $199.95

Customers are reminded that that they must pay a $9.95 monthly subscription fee (or $249.95 lifetime) for the TiVo service, in addition to DirecTV programming and equipment costs.

Both the Philips and Sony TiVo products have 35 hours of storage capacity and now offer dual-tuner recording after the software is downloaded.

Meanwhile, a variety of rebates are now offered for various UltimateTV products, which were the first DirecTV PVRs with dual-tuning ability. Sony said it is currently offering a $100 rebate on its Sony Microsoft/DirecTV UltimateTV (SAT W60), and UltimateTV has matched that offer with a $100 rebate of its own, bring the final price to $299.95 from the $499.95 suggested retail price.

Microsoft's $100 rebate also applies to the RCA DWD490RE UltimateTV recorder, which received a price cut to a $299.95 by Thomson this summer. The final selling price is now $199.95.

UltimateTV purchasers are also reminded they must pay a $9.95 monthly fee for recording service and Internet time on the unit's incorporated WebTV terminal.

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