About CableCARD decoders

What is a CableCARD?

About the size of a credit card, a CableCARD is a plug-in card that is inserted into a slot on the back of your TiVo box so you can receive digital cable channels. CableCARDs are supplied by your cable company and enable your TiVo box to unscramble your cable company's encrypted signal. Once inserted and activated, a CableCARD communicates with your local cable system and delivers all the high-definition and digital cable channels included in your cable TV subscription package.

If you do not insert a CableCARD decoder into your TiVo box, it will still receive antenna and standard definition analog cable channels. It was also receive broadband content, as long your TiVo box is connected to the Internet through your home network.

See the CableCARD overview

Do I need a CableCARD?

To access all of your high-definition and digital cable channels, a small CableCARD decoder(s) must be inserted into the back of your TiVo HD, TiVo HD XL, or TiVo Premiere box. If you do not insert a CableCARD decoder into your TiVo box, it will still receive antenna and standard-definition analog cable channels, plus online features if your TiVo box is connected to the Internet.

In order to record two channels at once on a TiVo HD or TiVo HD XL box, you'll need either one Multi-stream CableCARD or two Single-stream CableCARDs. If you have a Premiere box, you'll need one Multi-stream CableCARD to watch your HD and digital cable channels.

How do I get one?

You must call your cable company to schedule the installation of a CableCARD decoder. Some cable providers allow their customers to pick up their CableCARD at the cable company's local service center and install it on their own. While some cable companies offer CableCARDs to their subscribers for free, others may charge a nominal monthly fee, usually between $2-$4 per month—significantly less than they typically charge for the lease of a basic DVR. Contact your cable provider for details.

Federal law mandates that all major cable companies provide CableCARDs to their digital cable subscribers, so if you experience any problems call our Technical Support team at 1-877-367-8486 and we will initiate a three-way call with your cable company to expedite setup.

Will my TiVo box work with my cable service?

TiVo boxes work with all major cable providers. In order to receive high-definition and digital channels, you will require one or two CableCARD decoders. A TiVo Premiere box requires a single Multi-stream CableCARD (an M-Card). If you do not insert a CableCARD decoder into your TiVo box, it will still receive antenna and standard-definition analog cable channels, plus broadband content if your TiVo box is connected to the Internet through your home network.

How do I install CableCARD decoders in my TiVo Premiere box?

You will need to call your cable company and request one Multi-stream CableCARD decoder (M-Card). Many cable companies require that a technician come to your home to install the card, but some allow subscribers to install the cards themselves. Call your cable company and inquire about their CableCARD installation policy.

To help your cable technician with installing your CableCARD decoder, please download and print the following instructions:
TiVo Premiere instructions for CableCARD installers (PDF)

Tips for installing a CableCARD into your TiVo Premiere

Federal law mandates that all major cable companies provide CableCARDs to their digital cable subscribers, so if you experience any problems call our Technical Support team at 1-877-367-8486 and we will perform a three-way call with your cable company to expedite delivery.

Can I use my old CableCARD in my new Premiere?

You may use a CableCARD from an earlier generation TiVo box, but it must be a Multi-stream CableCARD (M-Card). Single-stream cards are not supported by Premiere boxes. Simply move the Multi-stream CableCARD from your old TiVo box to your new TiVo Premiere and follow the instructions on the installation menus that automatically appear on your TV screen.

Can I set up my Premiere if I don't have my CableCARD yet?

When going through Guided Setup you can choose to install a CableCARD at that time or to install at a later date. If you don't have your CableCARD yet, choose 'install at a later date' and finish Guided Setup without the CableCARD. You'll be able to watch all of your analog cable channels, but you'll need to get the CableCARD to view any digital channels.

If your cable provider requires that they install the card, set up the TiVo Premiere box a day or two before your installation appointment. This will allow TiVo Premiere to connect to the TiVo Service and download any software updates that are available.

To help your cable technician with installing your CableCARD decoder, please download and print the following instructions:
TiVo Premiere instructions for CableCARD installers (PDF)

My CableCARD just arrived and I've already complete Guided Setup. Now what do I do?

Once you have the card, simply insert it into the slot in the back of your Premiere and the menus to configure the card will automatically display; there's no need to run Guided Setup again.

How do I activate my CableCARD?

You must call your cable company to activate your card. Your cable company may refer to the activation process as “pairing” the CableCARD or "binding" the CableCARD.

All of the information they'll need is located on the gray and black CableCARD MMI screen, which appears after you've inserted the CableCARD. This gray and black screen lists the phone number you'll need to call to activate the card. Typically they'll ask for the serial number (Card S/N), the Host ID, and sometimes the 'Data' identifier.

If you subscribe to multiple tiers of cable service, check a few channels in each tier before getting off the phone to ensure the correct cable packages have been enabled (HBO, for example).

The time required for your CableCARD to become active can vary depending on your cable provider, but it typically becomes activated within a few hours. After the card is successfully activated, you can begin watching your digital channels. A full program guide for the upcoming weeks will be downloaded within 24 hours, or you can connect to the TiVo service in Messages & Settings and perform a manual update to download the latest programming information for your complete channel lineup.