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.
- 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.
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: