Thursday, 25 August 2011

Is Virgin Media's TiVo smart? Yes. Could it be smarter? Yes

Thursday nights between 9pm - 10pm have becoming known as Triple-Tuner Thursday for my TiVo, with the following programmes set to record in Primetime:
  • Warehouse 13 (Syfy HD, Wishlist)
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day (BBC One HD, Series Link)
  • The Killing (C4 HD, Series Link)
Now, I was watching Rangers struggling in their Europa League football clash against the mighty NK Maribor, on ESPN HD.  In order to continue watching the football, one of those three scheduled recordings had to be cancelled in order to free up one of TiVo's three tuners.

Captain Jack Harkness examines TiVo's series-link code for
possible improvements
Ideally, TiVo should have sacrificed either Warehouse 13 or Torchwood: Miracle Day - both of tonight's episodes for those shows have repeats coming up later this week - but The Killing doesn't. In the end, TiVo offered Torchwood, and I accepted the offer to cancel the recording in order to continue watching the football.

Now, TiVo is smart enough to seek out and record alternative recordings - for Wishlists, it will search all channels, and for series-links, it will search the same channel.

Trouble is, the repeated episode of Torchwood isn't on BBC One HD - its on BBC HD and several variations of BBC One - but not on BBC One HD, hence no repeat was scheduled to record. Luckily I noticed this (via the Upcoming Episodes list) and was able to manually set the repeat (on Tuesday) to record.

To be fair, Torchwood will be on BBC iPlayer/Catch-Up TV for the next week, but if it wasn't on one of the terrestrial channels offering catch-up content, I would have missed the repeated thrilling (hopefully!) episode. In short - it would be a nice tweak if TiVo searched all channels for alternative recordings for series links.


MegaZone said...

That's probably never going to happen. A core feature of Season Passes, or Series Links as they're called in the UK, is that they're tied to one and only one channel. This prevents them from grabbing content from other channels you don't want. Since SP/SLs grab the first show, what if a show airs on both SD & HD channels, but the SD is first? You want HD, but you'd get SD.

Basically, if you want something to match all channels use a Wishlist. If you want to keep it to one channel, use a Series Link.

The whole issue of which show to cancel to continue using a tuner is a long running one. TiVo's actual algorithm for picking the tuner isn't clear. You'd think it'd be something simple like the lowest priority program - but it doesn't seem to work that way.

What I've done is manually go and reschedule one of the recordings so free a tuner so I can keep using it. Though I really don't watch much Live TV so it doesn't happen often.

Jason (Admin) said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'm starting to lean towards replacing all of my series links with Wishlists after this.

For the record, Torchwood is the highest priority series-link on my box - I suspect it was a complete fluke that TiVo offered that programme to be cancelled.

It would be nice if it offered you a choose of which programme to cancel from the three tuners, perhaps I'm asking for too much there.

streaky_7 said...

Jason - I think the suggestion of being asked which programme to cancel is perfect - it keeps you in control. Whether its able to do that is another matter but I cant see why this wouldnt be possible. it seems like a feature that would be pretty straight forward to do?? but what do i know!!

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