Sunday, 11 September 2011

Why you should consider changing recording priorities for your Virgin Media TiVo

At first glance, TiVo's series link functionality seems pretty standard. You select a series to record, and every episode records. Job done.

However, there's more going on here then meets the eye, in part due to TiVo's ability to locate alternative broadcasts for an episode. When you setup a series link, TiVo will assume that you want to record the first broadcast of every episode.

For instance, going back to the Triple-Tuner-Thursday example I've previously mentioned, I have the following programmes set to record between 9pm to 10.05pm (with 5 minutes of trailing padding set). The episodes shown on Thursday are 'new':
  • Warehouse 13 (Syfy HD, Wishlist)
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day (BBC One HD, Series Link)
  • The Killing (C4 HD, Series Link)
Recently, I set a Series Link for Lost Girl (Syfy HD), new episodes of this programme broadcast every Thursday between 10pm to 11pm. The Series Link priority for Lost Girl was set below the programmes previously recorded between 9pm to 10.05pm - as such, TiVo informed me that the first 5 minutes of Lost Girl would be clipped, due to the 5 minute trailing padding on Torchwood.

TiVo also gave me the option of getting the Lost Girl series link with the first 5 minutes clipped, or not to get that series link with clipping - I selected the latter option, and TiVo then located the repeat broadcast on Sundays at 9pm, and set the series link to that day and time.

That's pretty smart functionality, but that leaves one problem - there seems to be no way to tell TiVo to create a series link for a programme, where the recording will take place at the same time on the same day for a repeat and when there's no recording clashes (short of setting up a manual recording which, after using series links on V+ HD is a backwards step).

So, what the heck does all this mean? Well:

  • When setting series links (and Wishlists), don't set higher priority to programmes which are more 'important' (yes, my brain is having trouble with that one too after using V+ HD). Instead, give higher priority to programmes which aren't repeated. Give the programmes with repeated episodes lower priority, so that TiVo can locate and record the repeats in event of a recording clash with higher priority recordings. You can use the 'upcoming episodes' list to see if a programme has repeats or not.
  • Remember that TiVo will find repeats only for the same channel as the series link. If the repeat is on a different channel, it won't be recorded. This almost caught me out with my Torchwood series link on BBC 1 HD when I cancelled that recording to watch live football - the Torchwood repeats are not on BBC 1 HD, but on BBC HD and various other BBC channel variants.
  • Of course, if I had set Torchwood up as a Wishlist that wouldn't have been an issue because TiVo would have searched all channels for that repeated episode and not just BBC 1 HD.
  • If the programme you're recording is on Catch-Up TV, and you're going to be watching it within 7 days of the original broadcast, then consider knocking it down the priority list.
  • Can I just record Season 5? Without the Season 1 repeats?
  • TiVo really could do with a 'record every episode at this time every week' option for creating series links (as V+ HD and probably every other PVR has as default for series links). Its not an issue if the episodes to be recorded are 'new' (meaning, new to the UK according to Tribune) and are marked as such in the metadata, but when they aren't, that can cause problems for programmes which are repeated throughout the week, and which feature 'new' episodes (to that channel) which are shown on a specific day of the week. In that case, at best, you end up recording episodes you don't want to watch and then spending time deleting them.

    As a real-life example of the above scenario: Season 5 of Ice Road Truckers (History Channel) starts on Thursday next week, with repeats on Friday. But repeats of Season 1 are on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Since the Season 5 episodes aren't marked as New (I'm assuming they've been previously broadcasted on another channel - or Tribune have messed up again), there's no way for me to record the Season 5 episodes only (without using a Manual recording, which strikes me as a backwards step compared to V+ HD).
  • This feature would also be useful (in my opinion) for avoiding clashes with live TV. For example, I can't tell TiVo to record the repeat Friday 8pm broadcast of Warehouse 13. If TiVo provided that option, I would have avoided the whole 'Which recording will TiVo cancel?' scenario I previously encountered when watching live Europa League football on ESPN HD. On the V+ HD, I could have just selected the repeat broadcast on Friday in the EPG, and created a series link to record every repeated episode of Warehouse 13 on Friday.


Nialli said...

You could always use the Manual Recording to record a second showing. I've not done this myself but it does appear to allow you to set a weekly recording (a manual series link in other words)

Jason (Admin) said...

That only seems to allow me to record 1 episode at a time, the series link options from the manual recording screen are the same as the other series link screens.

MegaZone said...

Note that if a program airs on multiple channels you can set up multiple Season Passes/Series Links. Just put them in the priority order you want so the channel you'd prefer to have them recorded from comes first. Yes, you could use a Wishlist, but some of the time Wishlists just cast too wide a net.

I'm not sure of the UK units, but in the US we can also setup manual recurring recordings which is basically like an old VCR - same time, same channel, recurring as programmed.

Nialli said...

On the manual recording screen I thought it could be set to record "Every Sunday" or similar? I'm at work so I can't check

Jason (Admin) said...

As someone over at VM's Help and Support Forums suggested, it would be nice if Wishlists could be setup to record a specific season of a show.

It would be an excellent solution to this issue, while making Wishlists even more powerful.

Richard said...

glad some people are getting their head around the series links... it only took me a few years to get it! (series 1 owner!!)

The trick with your tourchwood example is to set a series link on each of the channels it is broadcast... then it will record one episode from one channel and not on the others because the program exists already on the drive!!! ie set the series link on BBC1 and BBC1+1 and it will record the program once on the channel it finds.
This is different to how the V+ works when it records each chanels version and repeats in the week.

Why do this over the wishlist? dunno, just habit for me now! Maybe it was because I found it was easier to get the 'new' programs only, whereas wishlists gets everything.

Hope that helps!

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