TiVo HD and Copy Protection

Why do I pay money for this?I am an avid hockey fan, since I was a kid growing up in Buffalo. I love watching the game, and I especially love watching my hometown team, the Sabres. For the past 2 years, I’ve forked over $150 to subscribe to the NHL Center Ice cable package, so that I can watch every game of the season. With our TiVo, I can record each game, and watch it whenever I have time.

That is, I did, until this season started. We recently upgraded our TiVo unit from an old DirecTiVo, to the new Series 3 TiVo HD, which apparently implements unnaturally strict copy protection on premium content. Because the new unit utilizes CableCards, TiVo has different rules for these TiVos as compared to Series 2 units, according to their support page:

Since the Series3 and TiVo HD are DCR devices, in addition to the Macrovision rules for analog content, they must also comply with the content protection policies for Digital Cable content.

What this means is that NHL Center Ice content is copy protected, and will be deleted within hours of the game’s completion. Gone. Irretrievable.

This angers me to no end, as I am a busy person, who is paying a premium price to the NHL, as well as TiVo. The NHL’s popularity has waned so much here in the States, that I can’t for a minute imagine that they are responsible for this policy.

Some threads on the TiVo support site seem to suggest that this is a TiVo mistake, introduced by the Fall 2007 software update. User forgie716 writes:

After literally an hour on the phone with TiVo I got escalated to their next level of support and a customer tech that recognized the issue I was having and said it was indeed TiVo’s problem as their service was wrongly tagging NHL Center Ice games as restricted pay per view shows and not a sports package which shouldnt [sic] hold the same restrictions (if any).

David Pogue of the NYTimes posted about this a while back. Let’s hope it’s sorted out fast, or the NHL and TiVo are going to lose another fan – and they both can’t afford to lose any.

UPDATE: Eric McErlain of the hockey blog Off Wing received a phone call from someone claiming to be an NHL official – and they claim that the issue is not at all there doing:

  • The NHL has no policy restricting the use of NHL Center Ice content on TiVo or any other brand of DVRs and it isn’t planning on creating one.
  • What’s happening now has nothing to do with the NHL. The NHL never requested that its content be copy protected in this way.
  • The league is looking into the problem and will be contacting TiVo shortly in order to find a solution.

So now, I have only TiVo to be mad at.

Nov 2 UPDATE: Eric McErlain, who writes for offwing.com, wrote about the problem for sportingnews.com, and was gracious enough to ask me for a quote:

Niedermeyer told me that thanks to NHL Center Ice, he had only missed “three or four” Sabres games last season. But thanks to TiVo’s disappearing NHL games, he estimated that he had missed as many games this month alone.

“I’m very disappointed by this new TiVo, but more so by the DRM (digital rights management) that seems to get more and more absurd with each passing year,” Niedermeyer said. “Here we have a league that is doing all it can to get their product out there, and their fans end up alienated. It’s frustrating.”

And, for the record, I the 11/1 Sabres @ Bruins game started erasing itself behind me, as I watched:

TiVo lies

4 Responses to “TiVo HD and Copy Protection”


  • I had Time Warner come back to my house to check the cable cards in my TIVO series 3 HD box as I was able to receive all of the NHL package games for about 6 days & then nothing.
    They told me that I should be able to receive the games & they are working on a fix. I can still get the games as I put a spliter on the in coming cable & have a regular cable box also hooked up to my TV. You have to change the incoming to cable to view the games & also pay for the cable box but you’ll have the best of both worlds. Also have your cable company put a boster on the cable line to keep the signal strong . Time Warner of Staten Island NY did this for me.
    You will also have acess to all of the In Demand services & pay per view from TIVO & your cable company, all this for an extra 7.00 a month I think it’s worth it.

  • has this been resolved yet? any headway?

  • I just experienced this awful problem. We bought a Tivo HD after having a Tivo Series 2 for 3 years. Bought the lifetime service for the HD unit right away. And why shouldn’t we? We have been happy with Tivo for years.

    Until tonight when I tried to record the Red Wings vs Oilers game. I have watched almost every Wings game for 4 years in a row. I went through the pain of dealing with Time Warner to install a multistream cable card and everything works… except for this ridiculous copy protection.

    The big problem I have is that the DRM wants to delete the game an hour after it has finished live airing. This is unacceptable!! I rarely watch the games live because I have a very busy schedule. If I cannot save the games until the next day, or a few days later, I will not be watching… and I will no longer be a Tivo subscriber.

    Tivo is getting a phone call tomorrow from a very unhappy customer that just gave them $300 of hard earned money.

  • Yea, it totally sucks Matthew. One bright spot this year, is that Center Ice is now repeating games all night after they first air. So, you can stay up till 2am to watch your Wings. ;-)

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