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.
    ReplyReply
  • has this been resolved yet? any head­way?
    ReplyReply
  • 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.
    ReplyReply
  • 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. ;-)
    ReplyReply

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