How to Use TiVo Without a Subscription

By John Arkontaky

Updated September 28, 2017

A TiVo without a subscription can manipulate live television.
i tv control and tv 16 image by chrisharvey from

Though TiVo digital video recorders require subscriptions for full functionality, TiVos can be used without a subscription. Without a subscription TiVos won't be able to access updates to its program guides. This keeps users from scheduling recordings. Also, when users don't have an active subscription, they cannot access streaming services such as Netflix, Pandora Radio or Amazon OnDemand. Typically, the only functionality a TiVo can perform without a subscription is "Trick Play," which allows users to pause, fast-forward or rewind live television.

Attach audio-visual cords from the television input to the TiVo's audio-visual output jacks.

Plug the TiVo into the wall outlet.

Power on the TiVo unit. If prompted to subscribe to TiVo service, decline to do so.

Use the TiVo's remote to perform "Trick Play." Use the "Pause", "Fast-forward," "Rewind" and "Slow-motion" buttons on the remote to manipulate live television.


Though not supported by TiVo, some users might be able to schedule recordings manually while watching television.

TiVos purchased before October 2001 will come with TiVo Basic. TiVo Basic provides limited program guide functionality, recording and additional software features at no cost.


TiVos purchased directly through TiVo must have a service plan purchased. Retailers, however, will sell TiVo units without service plans attached.