nullstream weblog - TiVo PITA

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February 7, 2004 12:42 AM PST

I went with TiVo a few months ago, after beating my head against the wall that is MythTV (subject for a later post). I've liked it so far, no doubt in a way that console gamers like consoles. It's easy to use, it has the "spouse acceptance factor" and it "just works."

Recently however, I've become extremely frustrated with a simple lack of support for partial recordings. Shows (on NBC in particular) are being scheduled from 8:59 to 10:01. For TiVo, this presents an unresolvable conflict between this show and a show from 8-9 and a show from 10-11. If the NBC show is a higher priority, it successfully blocks THREE hours of programming from the other channel! It is absurd that TiVo cannot simply record 59 minutes of the first and third shows and let the higher priority NBC show simply "win" the contested minute on each side.

This has actually been an issue all season for shows like CSI. The only way around it is to either watch it live (thereby making TiVo useless) or doing a manual recording by time. The problem with the latter, is that the granularity is only 5 minutes. Which means you will miss the first and last 5 minutes of the overlapping shows. This can be important in shows such as Law and Order or Alias, where the show is set up in the first 5 minutes, or for reality TV, where the "final reveal" often happens in the last 5 minutes. The other (perhaps more critical problem) with manual recording is that it negates the benefit of a Season Pass, so when the program changes times or dates, you have to keep track of that an manually update the recording like an old fashioned VCR. Here's a related post on LiveJournal. Some people seem to think that allowing negative recording padding would fix it, but that is still too manual for my taste. Tivo should select who wins the overlap period based on your Season Pass ranking.

The reason I'm not as mad at the networks about this is simple practicality. The networks don't care if TiVo users hate this scheduling. They make up a small percentage of the audience, and they usually don't watch any commercials anyway. So who cares if they do a scheduling change that affects only TiVo users, and goes unnoticed by regular TV watchers. It is TiVo that must fix this or a large part of their value proposition (season passes) is hurt.
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