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Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Tivo Revolution Has Its Failings

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Tivo is a wonderful thing, when it works. However, like a lot of things it is a collaboration with other entities. The upshot is that Tivo is not something you can set and ignore (which is what it seemed to be at first).

The SyFy channel and Nickelodeon are two of the greatest offenders that I am aware of.

Nickelodeon's day time programming is utterly unreliable. You can set shows that you want to watch, and what runs is not what you set. This happens constantly making continuous viewing of a show impossible, so eventually you stop watching the shows (how many times you can you set a show and get an episode of "Sponge Bob" before you cancel your season passes).

The SyFy channel has done similar things. For whatever reason they scrambled their schedule this last weekend, so instead of getting the next episode of "Primeval" you got a rerun of "Sharknado." Yes, I know the SyFy channel announced it was going to run all those shark movies, but somehow this never got updated on Tivo, so Tivo dutifully recorded the hour that was supposed to be "Primeval." The Tivo listings for the SyFy channel showed additional times when the missing "Primeval" episode (titled "Truth") would air, and I dutifully set the Tivo for this and got a rerun of "Children of the Corn" (a movie I have never seen and never want to see).

Of course there are real world issues that happen. I was watching "Vegas," but one of the last four episodes was preempted by a "real world" issue. To me, the simple thing would have been to go ahead and bump all the shows a week, running the bumped episode the enxt week and bumping that episode down the line and so on. Nope. They never reran the episode, but they did cancel the series. (Note, some channels in similar circumstances have bumped episodes as above.)

Worse, sometimes shows get coded as "reruns" when they are actually "first runs," and if you have not told your Tivo to pick up every episode (which in turn means you start running into conflicts with other shows) it will not pick up that episode.

And if a show is bumped to a new time, and that time happens to conflict with another show you watch, Tivo will not alert you to this so that you can make other arrangements, it simply does not record the show with the lower priority. (In cases where you have a Tivo that can record multiple channels you can still find that there is no open recorder for a show that was bumped next to two or three or four other shows that air at the same time.)

The upshot is that I find myself once a week or so going down my list of shows and checking to see if all of the new episodes are coded to be recorded, and unsnarl any unexpected conflicts because something shifted. I love the cable channels who rerun their episodes several times in a week, as they are my safeguard to make sure I do not miss shows. They work so well (reruns of the episodes during the week) that I am seriously considering not watching the major channels because if I miss an episode of a serial, I may not be able to watch anything else in the serial for months waiting for the episode to be rebroadcast or until I can find the time to watch it online.

Yes, Tivo is wonderful for the fact that I do not have to keep track of videotapes, but it does bring its own headaches.