The Best & Worst Cable Companies (For TiVo Owners)

Dave Zatz —  February 5, 2012

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While most have little choice when it comes to cable providers, there are clear winners and losers when it comes to TiVo.

Years ago, the FCC, cable industry, and consumer electronics contingent, agreed upon the CableCARD as a means of of providing separable security to open the set-top box market for retail devices. Yet, there’s far more to the story as it’s been a rocky road… requiring additional government guidance for cable companies and due to the adoption of switched digital video (SDV) in many markets. We may find ourselves in the golden age of CableCARD, but not all providers are created equal. And what prompted this post was the discovery that Bright House brazenly charges for SDV Tuning Adapter rentals.

Look, we recognize that CableCARDs have been a burden for the MSOs. In fact, less than 550,000 TiVo DVRs are active on digital cable – after nearly 5 1/2 years on the market. So the cablecos have incurred all sorts of expense from required integration of CableCARDS into their own set-top boxes to training and support for what amounts to a small minority of customers who possess retail CableCARD devices like TiVo or the HDHomeRun Prime. Further, it’s not exactly a level playing field as IPTV (AT&T U-verse) and satellite companies (DISH, DirecTV) aren’t held to the same standard – even though they provide essentially the same consumer service, they’re regulated differently given their delivery mechanisms. And perhaps this explains why a cable company like Bright House appears to be throwing up roadblocks for retail CableCARD device owners… and why they bring up the bottom of our list as the absolute worst cable television provider for TiVo owners.

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Not only has Bright House possibly misled customers on the potential impact of SDV programming, they charge customers $3.80 a month to rent SDV Tuning Adapters. Now I do hear this fee is typically waived the first year and/or if you complain enough. And while it’s within Bright House’s rights to levy this fee, this isn’t exactly how the cable industry originally pitched the tuning adapter. Basically, a TiVo owner must rent this second set-top box from Bright House in order to enable their actual DVR to tune the channels they’re paying for. The need for tuning adapters is bad enough under the best of conditions, but the gall to charge for this hack! In fact, I’d go so far as to say it negates the cable industry’s progress in enabling third party receiving devices like the Xbox or iPad and reinforces the need for some sort of regulated AllVid or IP back channel method of two-way communication — as renting two devices (CableCARD, TA) to enable a single retail CableCARD device seems to run counter to FCC guidance. Another strike against Bright House Networks is their voluntary, overzealous application of the copy once CCI Byte flag which effectively kills TiVo multi-room viewing and TiVoToGo for all channels but the locals.

tivo-cablecard
Honors for the second worst cable company for TiVo owners goes to Cox Communications, who I had the misfortune of living with about a year and a half. My problems with Cox were related to switched channels sporadicly vanishing for hours or days at a time and continual tuning adapter reboots. In both scenarios, I was unable to view or reliably record content I’d been paying for. How bad was it? TiVo, Inc took a look at my logs:

There are many occurrences of the TA disconnecting and reconnecting throughout the logs. All of them are of approximately 4-5 minute duration, which is consistent with the TA rebooting. There is no pattern as to when the reboots occur, but they are occurring at a frequency of about twice a day. For the time period between 10/22/10 00:00 GMT and the latest 11/02/10 10:00 GMT there are 22 occurrences.

During my tenure, Cox never satsfactorily resolved these issues… yet during the same time period reported zero CableCARD issues within their footprint to the FCC. Never let reality get in the way of government accounting? I guess it’s somewhat ironic because Cox actually has the friendliest and most concerned support personel I’ve dealt with. They just didn’t seem to have a good handle on their technology. And, like Bright House, Cox over zealously applies the copy once restriction in most markets – which disabled TiVo multi-room viewing for me. That perhaps indiscriminate application of the copy once CCI Byte flag also lands Time Warner in the “worst” category.

On the other end of the spectrum, Verizon’s FiOS TV is absolutely the best home for TiVo owners. No switched digital silliness, no intentional CCI Byte copy restrictions. Further, I’ve found their staff and network highly CableCARD-aware – acquiring and activating their hardware is ridiculously pain free (compared to the competition). Even better? Their footprint overlaps with that of Bright House and Cox Communications in some regions… giving a subset of TiVo owners the opportunity to go from worst to first, should they so choose.

Comcast also gets a nod for upping their CableCARD game. Early on, I found myself displeased with their CableCARD support (which required a call to the local franchising authority). But over time, they seem to have become more adept at supporting CableCARDs and haven’t “upgraded” their network to SDV. However, I still have to knock them for what has been inconsistant CableCARD pricing across the country.

Of course, experiences will vary — and this summary is based largely on my first hand exposure, FCC reports, and TiVo Community discussion. Have a CableCARD horror story or notably positive experience to contradict our findings?

61 responses to The Best & Worst Cable Companies (For TiVo Owners)

  1. Thanks to Sam Biller (@techwzrd) for fighting the good fight, a Bright House customer who files FCC complaints and provided me a copy of his bill.

  2. I have Cox (Las Vegas) and don’t have the CCI-byte problem. The only issue I had was their $30 truck roll fees initially, and when I first got my TiVo they required two S-cards (no M-cards available), and billed me for an additional outlet fee when really they were in the same device (and this is back when that fee was $8/mo, plus the additional Cablecard).

    Other than that, I’ve had no Cablecard problems with Cox.

  3. I definitely agree when it comes to FiOS. I can’t imagine having to live with SDV and copy once issues.

  4. I have found FiOS to play much better with my TiVo than Time Warner Cable. No tuning adapter, faster tech support via Twitter (though TWC is much at that now), no copy once nonsense with the CCI byte, and the picture quality is better than TWC, I have had none of tiling issues that I was plagues with on TWC.

    On the downside, I do miss having the HD version of BBCA.

  5. “And while it’s within Bright House’s rights to levy this fee”

    I’m not sure the FCC will agree with this. As you say:

    “renting two devices (CableCARD, TA) to enable a single retail CableCARD device seems to run counter to FCC guidance. “

    Complaining to the FCC should do the trick here, slowly but surely.

  6. Cablevision is pretty good. The dude that came was pretty familiar with TiVo. Of course I stopped having service problems after they replaced the 25 year old cable from the pole to the house.

  7. Anthony, yeah I’d read on the forums that not all Cox franchises were still doing the CCI Byte thing. But forgot the (former?) truck roll fee. That’s another classic Cox story. The installer skipped his appointment and I lost like 5 hours waiting around. When they rescheduled, they still charged me $60 for the two-TiVo “install” (which required subsequent support to work… inconsistently). Fun times! By the by, I have a feeling TiVo’s on demand deal with Cox will never materialize.

    Chucky, Sam did write the FCC. But according to TiVo, the FCC hasn’t restricted TA-related fees. Bright House sets a bad precedent as the only provider charging for this hack and I hope the NCTA talks to them… because it’s the sort of thing that’ll motivate folks like us to more loudly push for an AllVid solution – and they’re opposed to additional government mandated technology.

  8. “But according to TiVo, the FCC hasn’t restricted TA-related fees.”

    That’s bizarre, considering the other pro-CableCARD rulings they made last year.

    “But Bright House sets a bad precedent and I hope the NCTA talks to them… because it’s the sort of thing that’ll motivate folks like us to more loudly push for an AllVid solution – and they’re opposed to additional government mandated technology.”

    I’m still a pessimist on AllVid in the near to mid-term, but continuation of the Bright House shenanigans would definitely make a mandated IP backchannel more likely in the short-term…

  9. I have TiVo and 2 CableCARDs from Cablevision. It works fine. I had an SDV tuner (free) but it never worked right and was one more power-sucking box. I returned it.

    When my TiVo breaks, I don’t think I will replace it. I am watching less and less cable TV, more and more Netflix and Amazon video. When the TiVo breaks I will likely turn my cable subscription into basic and forgo all those cable channels that I don’t watch, like ESPN, Disney, HGTV, CNN, FOXNEWS…, but pay for with each month’s cable bill.

  10. This is pretty shocking. Cablecard was supposed to reduce the barriers to all. What good does it do to skip out on their monthly box fees, if they’ll hit you with fees for using your own DVR? Why won’t the FTC or those in charge put an end to these types of duopoly abuses? One minor point I’d like to bring up is that AT*T is actually the worst for TiVo owners since they won’t let you use your DVR with their service at all.

  11. The Bright House argument is the cost is still less ($1.30) than the cost of renting one of their set top boxes. Congress hasn’t given the FCC the authority to regulate equipment fees. The FCC statement at http://www.fcc.gov/guides/cablecard-know-your-rights that, “For some channels delivered using a technique called “switched digital video,” you may need a second device called a “tuning adapter.” This device is typically provided at no additional charge to CableCARD customers” was an effort on the FCC’s part to encourage cable operators to continue the practice of providing the Tuning Adapters at no charge.

    The real answer is for the FCC to mandate the IP Backchannel that TiVo proposed –> http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=198476&site=lr_cable

    “The FCC also reserved the right to revisit the decision if “customers who want to use retail set-top boxes do not have satisfactory and equivalent access to all of the linear channels… ”

    I would say that paying to lease a tuning adapter set top box to enable me to use my retail set top box isn’t extremely satisfactory. Since the decision TiVo has demonstrated with a number of new cable operators that an IP Backchannel is practical. In fact, TiVo is willing to use its own resources (in some cases) to add the hooks to enable support of the IP Backchannel.

    I think its time for more consumers to alert the FCC that the current experience using Tuning Adapters is less than optimal.

  12. My understanding is that the reason DirecTV and Dish are not included isn’t because of their technology, but because there used to be a thriving set-top box market.

    That market is gone which is why when AllVid was being discussed the FCC stated the satellite companies would be included.

    After years of watching all this, I’m convinced the FCC does not have the power to fulfill the intent of the law. The time to write the FCC has passed, it is not time to write your US representatives.

  13. “Comcast also gets a nod for upping their CableCARD game. Early on, I found myself displeased with their CableCARD support (which required a call to the local franchising authority). But over time, they seem to have become more adept at supporting CableCARDs and haven’t “upgraded” their network to SDV.”

    First, I would really doubt that there’s less than 550,000 units active.

    My local franchise might be close to the Boonies, but there’s a robust CableCard market out here. Comcast, I would give lower marks for having stuff that is DOA at install/add-on/upgrade.

    Their provided modem tanked the first week, and the phone adapter NEVER worked.

    Switching to the 3 tuner HDHomeRun Prime was a slight pain. I tried with two cards. The 1st was DOA. But tech support from Silicon Dust saved the day. They explained the most likely problems and told me to call Comcast again. The tech from the Everett, Wa call center entered the correct data, and I was up and running.

    Here’s what SD said:

    “Hello,

    The card not activating/pairing usually means someone fat-fingered the host ID or data number, or that the CableCARD ID, unit address, and serial number in their system aren’t all correct. For the former, have them read off the numbers they see and make sure those match what you see locally. For the latter, swapping the card is usually the easiest fix. Local dispatch can correct the mismatched numbers, but it’s like pulling teeth to try to get the phone support people to understand the problem and get them to send the right request and right data to the right people to get it fixed.

    Silicondust Support”

  14. Jon the Heretic February 5, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I have Charter in CT and every single non Network channel is infected with the CCI byte. I feel pretty disgusted by the resulting loss of functionality– Tivo to No.

    I also lose a recording at least once a month thanks to Tuning Adapter failures. And last year Charter had free HBO weekend which the Tech explained to me I wouldn’t be able to view on my Tivo. He went on to explain how completely impossible it was to get the free HBO and how it was all Tivo’s fault and how cablecard simply wasn’t up to the task.

    Needless to say, I was charmed.

  15. I’ve had two TiVoHD units on Comcast in metro Minneapolis/St. Paul (St. Paul side – legacy Comcast) since March of 2008. I was fortunate to have a very TiVo and CableCard literate tech from Comcast set me up. Since then, no CableCard related issues. Comcast does prevent some TiVo copying (some HBO shows, for example) but not too many others.

  16. Mark, the top ten cable providers reported 554,000 active CableCARDs in retail devices ending 2011. Most are TiVo, but not all and the smaller cable providers aren’t accounted for.

  17. I realize that RCN is bit player relative to the Comcasts and TWC’s of the world, but they are incredibly Tivo-Friendly, (probably because they offer an RCN branded Tivo as an “upgraded DVR”). Cable Cards are $2/mo,they only copy protect the premium channels (HBO, Showtime et al). My first install (about 4 years ago) was a little rocky, as the tech wouldn’t believe that the card he installed was a single stream card (despite the fact that the Tivo info screen said that’s what it was), so I needed a 2nd tech to come out with a Multi stream card. The 2nd install about a year later was about as painless as could be expected, the tech was in and out in under 30 mins and everything worked fine (after a Tivo Reboot).

  18. “Mark, the top ten cable providers reported 554,000 active CableCARDs in retail devices ending 2011. Most are TiVo, but not all and the smaller cable providers aren’t accounted for.”

    And who validated those numbers? Rob Enderle?

    Those numbers are an advantage to NCTA. Sure, “it adds costs”. But that still doesn’t solve the correct billing, proper installation, and QoS complaints these operators face.

    Sure, the government told us there were WMD’s in Iraq. How did that work out?

    Those number crunchers from Enron, Adelphia, and MCI are still out there…..

  19. “Mark, the top ten cable providers reported 554,000 active CableCARDs in retail devices ending 2011. Most are TiVo, but not all and the smaller cable providers aren’t accounted for.”

    Of course, the MSO’s have been doing all they can to keep that number as low as inhumanly possible over the years through anti-competitive measures. It’s as if the MSO’s killed their parents and then pleaded to the court for leniency on the basis of being an orphan. But that’s not my real point.

    My real point is that there are more active CableCARD TiVo users than there are citizens of Wyoming. I think the TiVo users of the United States deserve two US Senators, just like Wyoming gets. Then, perhaps, we’ll get some better representation.

    I’ll support Jon the Heretic in the primary.

  20. Mark, ah I see your point. I obviously take the numbers at face value, with maybe a 10% margin of error. Of course, TiVo could quite simply tell us how many active digital subscribers they have, but they choose to remain mum – for fear of spooking the investors? I think TiVo reported about 1.1 or 1.2 million subscribers at their last quarterly call – that’d include older Series 2 units, over the air folks, and I believe those with Lifetime subscription past X years are no longer counted (in regards to revenue). I just dropped TiVo a note asking if they have any comment on the NCTA’s reported numbers and assume if the numbers were way, way off as these NCTA reports are released TiVo would file something with the FCC.

  21. Michael Burstin February 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

    I can’t really complain about Comcast. I had no problems when I got my first TivoHD and just did a self-install on my Premier Elite a few weeks ago here in Boston. My parents also have 2 Tivo HDs which other than the Comcast guy having issues on their back-end (took about 20 minutes to clear up) back in Pittsburgh. Both only have CCI on premium channels. I know that Comcast even has a dedicated internal Tivo support group because I’ve spoken to them a few times. Still not sure what they are going to charge me for my second CableCard, partially because I am already not paying normal price after threatening to go to Fios a few months back (when Fios was in my neighborhood but not my complex (now they are so I’ll have a decision to make soon)).

  22. “I am already not paying normal price after threatening to go to Fios a few months back (when Fios was in my neighborhood but not my complex (now they are so I’ll have a decision to make soon).”

    That’s one of the real advantages of having a TiVo in a neighborhood with competing wireline providers. You should never have to pay “normal price”. You can always switch providers in a pretty painless manner, and if you let the providers know that, they are almost always willing to cut you a price well below the rack rate to keep their wire from going dark to your home.

    Viva CableCARD! Viva! Viva!

    (And of course you should go FiOS for your TiVo if you can get them to give you a competitive rate, which they likely will do if you have decent enough phone skills to get to their ‘win over’ or ‘win back’ type department which deals with folks who’ve done their homework on their competitive options. An hour of phone work can save you a grand per year, in my experience.)

  23. “My understanding is that the reason DirecTV and Dish are not included isn’t because of their technology…”

    I have no factually based knowledge on why Satellite and U-verse aren’t included in the CableCARD mandate. Perhaps they should be. I’m not sure.

    But the reasoning has always made some variant of sense to me on the basis that CableCARD is for “fat pipes” only.

    Satellite beams and copper telephone lines are “thin pipes”, so it’s OK for them to implement a proprietary delivery system. But coax and optical fibre are “fat pipes”, so it makes better sense for them to get regulated like a proper railway and allow standardized 3rd party hardware to act as the multicast receiver.

    I don’t know if this is really the FCC’s reasoning, but if it is, as stated, it makes some actual sense to me.

  24. While SDV and the tuning adaptor have made me berate TiVo repeatedly with angry tweets each time I lose a show, I’m assuming that I have a lot more HD channels than I otherwise would have had and that is part of the equation.

    Perhaps i should sit down and compare FIOS and Cox Fairfax HD offereings. (fios isn’t an option in my condo, but from what i’ve heard from a collegue who lives up the street, FIOS aint all that.)

    On another subject, I agree with Dante, RCN is certainly worth mentioning as the most TiVo friendly, and a model for other cable companies.

  25. Chucky,

    Satellite isn’t a “fat pipe?” That just isn’t true, they have as much bandwidth as cable does, easily.

    U-Verse isn’t compatible with CableCARD and wasn’t launched until after CableCARD was, so it is unrealistic to force them to adopt it. DirecTV and Dish on the other hand were around when CableCARD was developed, and while DirecTV had box competition at the time, I think Dish was too small for anyone to care.

  26. Roger, I’m also in Northern Virginia and was quite pleased with my decision to drop Cox for Verizon. Regarding RCN, I mostly left them out as they rent TiVos directly to customers which puts them in a different category – of course you can still buy your own and old timers will have their own hardware. (Charter rolling out TiVo Premieres should be interesting as they’re SDV.)

    Ben, I think there’s much more to it than that — that they’re regulated and approved in different ways. And the fact that every jurisdiction requires AT&T and Verizon to secure approval (against MSO-funded protest?) is one reason why those roll outs have slowed. Also, I’d think when one launches probably has no bearing on what’s required. In fact, it should be easier to meet new requirements without legacy hardware. Maybe Mari can write us a post on the regulation of this all. (Wish Cynthia Brumfield were still blogging – this is her territory.)

  27. Comcast also gets a nod for upping their CableCARD game. Early on, I found myself displeased with their CableCARD support (which required a call to the local franchising authority). But over time, they seem to have become more adept at supporting CableCARDs and haven’t “upgraded” their network to SDV. However, I still have to knock them for what has been inconsistant CableCARD pricing across the country.

    Dave hits the nail on the head here – Comcast has come a long way since I got my first Tivo HD in 2008. It was a major fiasco to get the card activated correctly. Two other cards added in the past couple of years have gone very smoothly with everything working from the get-go.

    However, I believe that billing-wise they are in direct violation of the new FCC rules, which state that cards must be charged for universally across the MSO’s system. Comcast is all over the map for this – some cards are free, some are $1.50, some incur a full ‘digital outlet’ fee minus a customer owned equipment credit, which nets out to around $7.50 a month. Per card.

    I have a thread about this over at TCF, if you’re getting hit with the outlet charges please file an FCC complaint.

    http://www.tivocommunity.com/tivo-vb/showthread.php?t=481300

  28. “Of course, the MSO’s have been doing all they can to keep that number as low as inhumanly possible over the years through anti-competitive measures.”

    &

    “I think TiVo reported about 1.1 or 1.2 million subscribers at their last quarterly call – that’d include older Series 2 units, over the air folks, and I believe those with Lifetime subscription past X years are no longer counted (in regards to revenue).”

    As a former Tivo (DirecTV unit) owner, I’d say the Series 2 units probably did have the best unit life. And the amount of spare parts, dead units, and accessories that could be found in a neighborhood garage sale are all the makings of a good hobby. DVRUpgrade, and others helped in that crusade.

    Additionally, when the units could use usb wireless adapters, that was a moment in time. So when we moved into the day where Tivo’s need a CableCard, and the older units die off (after years of refits and upgrades), 554,000. units just doesn’t add up.

    I’m with Chuckles, as I believe the install techs actually have a plan to install their company’s DVR, over your’s, based upon commission.

    Comcast will ask you if you have a wireless network, HDTV, and a home theater stereo, before they come out to install. They will claim to waive fees for boxes and modems if you’ll just let them install the Motorola Box from Hell. And Comcast, before DirecTV made you rent the boxes, would give you an equipment credit and free removal of your dish equipment, just for switching.

    There must be a similar program for people that have Tivo’s just waiting to be installed with new cable services.

    Comcast has several reasons for keeping it a closed network. Chiefly being available bandwidth for the cable modems. On game day’s, most of the networks look grainy and compressed garbage. All thanks to the Motorola Box from Hell .

  29. Toss Shaw (Canada) onto the worst list. Since there is no mandatory cablecard support in Canada, you can’t use any of the HD TiVos. (Although Shaw does use cablecards on their own cable boxes.) Using an S2/S1 analog TiVo is becoming a growing problem as Shaw is switching off all but basic cable channels on analog. In addition, they don’t offer new customers a plan with any analog service. Plus they are now charging customers on old analog packages substantially more than digital only packages.

  30. I have a love/hate relationship with Comcast. Agree with where you place them, but having them be one of the ‘best’ for Tivo lovers given my regular frustration getting Cable Cards installed and working is irritating.

    Recently upgraded to a lifetime Tivo Elite (very happy mostly) and getting a working Cable Card took weeks, multiple self-installs with different cards then finally a truck roll. Makes you dread the day you ever buy another TiVo. And they’re one of the good ones.

    But a decent set of HD channels. Less than horrible compression. No charge (for me) for each Cable Card (as long as you only need one per device). No SDV. Only the premiums getting copy never, all combine to mean that once you have a TiVo working, you’re set. Mostly.

    Agree with Chucky here–the Cable Companies invented Cable Card. It has the horrible install experience (which they avoid by pre-pairing card and STB) they designed. And they’re the ones who fail to train their techs, have a limited set of Cable Card experts you generally can’t reach, etc. And don’t require anybody in their employ to double check all those complex strings of letters and numbers before they hit ‘PAIR!’.

    I could care less how hard life is for them, or how much money they’re wasting supporting the dimishing pool of Cable Card users they guaranteed.

    If the FCC had any balls at all this would all be very different. But hey, that’s not the world we live in.

  31. Michael Burstin February 7, 2012 at 7:51 am

    @Glenn, amazing how different of an experience you had and I had. I stopped by my local Comcast office, picked up a card, called up their support number, told them I needed to pair a card for Tivo, they transferred me to their CableCard/Tivo group and I was up and running within 20 minutes (it took about 15 minutes for the pairing process to actually complete after the CSR entered it into the system).

    This is in the Boston area.

  32. Today’s TiVo FCC filing on retail CableCARD adoption.

    http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021858696

  33. Thanks, Sam. And ha, TiVo referenced us when speaking with the FCC about the CableCARD state of the union. Wonder if Glenn’s “no balls” comment was already up. ;)

    Interesting from the summary… While TiVo didn’t say anything specifically on the total number of retail CableCARDs the NCTA reports are in play, they did comment:

    “TiVo has gained tens of thousands net retail CableCARD subscribers […] Yet, the NCTA report shows a net decrease. [...] The undersigned wished to make the record clear that the number of retail CableCARD subscribers using TiVo DVRs is increasing contrary to what NCTA’s report might otherwise suggest.”

    TiVo goes on to question Comcast’s reporting, wondering what caused their substantial decline in CableCARD numbers:

    “perhaps Comcast changed how it counts CableCARDs, sold off a number of systems with retail CableCARD customers, or some other explanation.

  34. “And ha, TiVo referenced us when speaking with the FCC about the CableCARD state of the union.”

    Pretty cool. A practical mandated IP backchannel is really a no-brainer if the FCC wants to do their job and make the Telecommunications Act of 1996 properly relevant in 2012.

    (And the current FCC has seemed to demonstrate teeth on CableCARD of late. They just move at a deliberate pace.)

  35. I still want our two Senators, however. If it’s good enough for Wyoming…

  36. Chucky,
    Unfortunately the FCC chairman won’t take on cable on sdv and ip backchannel. As you can see, Zinn is hinting about a viable successor to CableCARD which will be a step in the right direction.
    ~Sam

  37. Yeah, but I’ve been thinking more about Boxee’s pitch today. Maybe we’re making things overly complex. Just open it up like the olds days – all of basic cable via clear QAM (assuming the operators map the channels, and consistently). Why do we need cable boxes? I doubt they inhibit piracy as the content folks and MSOs would like… but it does probably provide a lucrative pay per view outlet for them. Hm.

  38. Here’s one for you…I’m on TWC and have 2 TiVos, a series 3 and a premier. On one of them I recorded a Christmas movie on ABC Family that my 2-year old loves. The other day, he wanted to watch this movie on the TiVo that it was not recorded on. But because the CCI byte is set to not allow copying, I am now forced to find a “torrented” version of the movie, and send it to the 2nd TiVo via pyTivo. And this version will be commercial free, about a 4GB download. If they would simply allow copying among MY TiVos for content I already paid for in my cable bill, there would be a little more bandwidth in my node and I may even catch the network’s commercials if I don’t feel like wrestling the peanut away from my toddler. I realize that premier to premier streaming is the answer to this, but I love my Series 3 too much to upgrade.

  39. “Unfortunately the FCC chairman won’t take on cable on sdv and ip backchannel.”

    Do we really know that yet? I thought last year’s FCC rulings were pretty specifically requesting complaints from consumers about SDV problems…

  40. That is a good point Chucky, why haven’t we seen more complaints to the FCC about Tuning Adapters? I just tried to go through the process and the FCC’s complaint wizard directs those with CableCARD issues to use the “Media General” form. How does that make any sense? I emailed the FCC for some clarification.

  41. Most consumers don’t bother complaining – either they never get a TiVo because it’s too hard and confusing or the return a TiVo when they run into technical problems as they do with things like CableCARDs and SDV. I assume TiVo return rates are high given the continual availability of discounted refurbs.

  42. Optimum Cable is Tivo friendly. They installed the proper CableCard w/out fuss or complaint. It all works.

    Their installers are both competent and courteous.

  43. “Most consumers don’t bother complaining – either they never get a TiVo because it’s too hard and confusing or the return a TiVo when they run into technical problems as they do with things like CableCARDs and SDV.”

    Right. But some consumers do complain. Especially consumers who are aware enough of the issues to be aware that the FCC is asking for complaints about problems with Tuning Adapters. So if you’re reading this blog, and if you have any issues with Tuning Adapters, you ought to complain to the FCC via their website.

    If the FCC has teeth, they will use those complaints to implement an IP backchannel, and then 3rd parties like TiVo will actually be able to sell more retail CableCARD devices, since consumers will enjoy an experience with no more hassles than they’d have with the MSO’s equipment. That’s the FCC’s mandate here, to create a level playing field, and they ought to fulfill it. That would create more potential consumers for 3rd party CableCARD devices.

    The stuff the FCC did last year mandating self-installs and online ordering helped a bit. They need to keep at the job to make the Telecommunications Act of 1996 properly relevant in 2012.

  44. After reading all this and checking my cable bill, Brighthouse charges me $10.95 for the cable card. So that, topped with the $12.95 i pay to Tivo (should be part of the initial purchase if you ask me) .. and i pay quite a bit per month just to have a Tivo, not including the paying Brighthouse just for the service as well. I would switch to Fios in a heartbeat if they offered it in my area.

  45. I have Cox Fairfax and once I get past the initial pain of getting everything configured right it’s been mostly trouble free. I did run into the copy protection issue once or twice in the process of trying to migrate shows from an older Premier box to a new Elite box. I haven’t much occasion since to transfer shows since 4 tuners has been adequate for my use and the other box is dedicated to the wife’s shows. I’m curious if the latest s/w upgrade from Tivo has helped with the copy protection issue? It’s supposed to offer a streaming option in addition to the old transfer option and claim the ability to share more shows that way.

  46. I’m curious if the latest s/w upgrade from Tivo has helped with the copy protection issue?

    Absolutely. The latest release supports MRS which I use all the time. The only items that can’t be streamed are things like Amazon movie downloads.

    Do we really know that yet? I thought last year’s FCC rulings were pretty specifically requesting complaints from consumers about SDV problems…

    Chuck, I’m echoing some comments I received directly from a very senior person that has first hand knowledge of the ins and outs of the FCC. He was pretty sure that the FCC is going to tackle the successor to CableCARD and pretty much ignore the SDV issue for now.

    After reading all this and checking my cable bill, Brighthouse charges me $10.95 for the cable card.

    Alan, that can’t be right. BHN does charge $8.00 for each leased Set Top Box they provide. Are you sure that they aren’t charging you for a STB in addition to the CableCARD? Send me a copy of your bill if you want me to comment. sambiller at gmail.com.

  47. Sam, multi-room streaming only helps folks on the Premiere platform. The thousands of TiVo Series3 and HD units are left out. Not to mention MRS doesn’t solve the TiVoToGo lock down.

    Alan, I’m also willing to take a look at your bill if you’d like. Something’s not right. You can photograph just the portion of the bill related and/or black out account info if you have privacy concerns. davezatz@gmail.com (Although Sam will be able to better interpret having dealt with them and these issues for awhile.)

    Regarding Steve in Canada, I’m not sure how much we should blame Shaw. CableCARD just isn’t a thing up there. Not to mention TiVo sales were never good back in the old days. Although, also back in those old days, I had some reliable intel that TiVo was trying to work a deal with at least one Canadian TV provider. Not sure which and guess it never panned out. (It’s safe to assume TiVo has pitched all sorts of providers around the world.)

  48. Wow Dave. 47 comments on a TiVo post. Maybe things are changing! ;)

  49. Comment count isn’t a reliable indicator of page views. While traffic has been healthy, this post is running neck and neck with the Lumia 900 one… which has a single comment. For everyone else wondering what we’re discussing, I had mentioned to Sam that blogging about TiVo doesn’t seem to engage people as it once did. Should have started an Apple blog instead back in ’05. ;)

  50. Update… Brighthouse will no longer be charging rental fees for Tuning Adapters: http://t.co/MCEgn57a

  51. Tuning Adapter on BHN are now free thanks in part to this post!

    https://twitter.com/#!/davezatz/status/190556989204606976

  52. I admit that Time Warner’s knowledge of cable card installation leaves something to be desired. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and look at this from the cable company’s positoin.

    Keep in mind that cable companies are the most highly regulated of all TV providers. They are essentially forced by the FCC to spend large amounts of money in training and development to make third party devices compatible with their network.

    Here’s the reality. A cable DVR will always have superior functionality because cable DVRs run natively on the cable network. A Tivo is a foreign device that relies on third party hardware to translate a native broadcast into a foreign signal that can be displayed on a foreign platform. That’s no simple task. Troubleshooting cablecards requires a degree of specialized networking skill. You can see why cable companies are less than enthusiastic about cable card devices.

  53. FiOS is wonderful. i have 3 ceton infini4 and a fourth at my in laws house 45 min away on th same account
    the only copy once flag belongs to HBO/CineMAX

  54. I lived in Seattle and Houston and was served by Comcast. I have used several Tivo’s for years and have updated to newer Tivo’s over the years.

    Overall I have had no real issues with Comcast. After you get the Tivo’s paired and working well. I could move shows between Tivo’s with no issues. And the system worked well. No tunning adapters, no restarts, etc…. Tivo clearly outperformed Comcast dvr’s.

    Now I have just moved to Orange county CA. In COX land. Wow what a nighmare so far. They have been out to my house 4 times so far and things are still no solid.
    I have had cable card issues, tuning adapter changes, and now I have one tivo that only gets basic channels until I restart it. Then it works for a day. Cox has been a battle. If I had a Fios or better option I would pull plug on them. I am still looking for a fix for my latest problem. My other tivo’s often show messages that tell me tunning adapter is present or plugged in while I am watching shows.

  55. Cox, Las Vegas, just sen tout SDV notices in my area. After picking up the Adapters and looking at the install requirements I immediately noticed an issue. The Tivo Premiers have 2 USB ports on the back One of which is connected to a Wi-Fi adapter, the other is the dongle for the remote control. Cox has yet to tell me how I’m supposed to connect 3 devices to two connectors. The four techs I got bounced around to, didn’t seem to understand the math and were under the impression that 1+1=potato.

  56. @Gen,

    You will need to add a USB hub to support a 3rd device. See http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1791.

  57. My only choices here are Atlantic Broadband and U-verse. I had a DirecTivo for 12 years. I started U-verse recently. Their own DVR isn’t horrible. The best thing is that they don’t force me into a contract. Do you guys know anything about how Tivo works with AtlanticBB?

  58. @Neil,

    TiVo recently signed an agreement with AtlanticBB. Atlantic Broadband will be the first U.S. cable operator to leverage TiVo’s complete product suite which delivers a unified experience that spans whole home DVR, HD Set tops for non DVR households, access to Internet delivered video and applications, and multi-screen viewing experiences delivered through a smart online portal and an Atlantic Broadband customized mobile application. I’m not sure about the timing of the roll-out of services with AtlanticBB but it will probably be available in the next six months. I expect that this would make them somewhat TiVo friendly but I can’t comment specifically on how well-equipped they are to handle CableCARD, etc.

  59. Your article seems to have omitted Charter Cable.

    Also, its sort of moot, unless one is using it to decide where to rent or buy a home, since once one’s location is set, one almost never has an option too CHOOSE a cable company.

  60. I have Cox and have the same issues. Its horrible. My adapter resets once a month and I typically lose all my channels until I manually go reset it. Often resulting is missed DVRed programs. The Cox staff have no idea how to trouble shoot the Cable Cards. The guy that came to “install” it had no idea what he was doing. When I first started having issues and before I realized what the problems was and how to fix it, I had a tech come out to fix it. He had no idea what to do and blatently told me that they pretty much have no training on the CCs because so few houses have them that its not worth it. He made me new coax cable to connect to the wall because thats all he knew how to do.

  61. Brighthouse is still bad with cable cards/tuning adaptor. Tried to use one about a year and half ago, 2 “tech” install efforts couldn’t get 10% of the channels I should. Was told by customer no service I could pick up another cable card and exchange at local branch. Local branch had none, never did. So went home, removed TA and returned. Didn’t have the ambition to deal with a 3rd “tech” install effort so had cable tv disconnected and went back to OTA. They turned off my internet too, took 2 days to get that fixed.

    Fall 2013 had cable tv reinstalled. Didn’t have the ambition to deal with their lousy tuning/ cable card system so just used the BH tuning box for channels above the analog and analog cable and OTA via tivo. The Sci Atlanta cable box is a Pathetic system, slow to boot, laggy, crashes alot. Picked up tuning adaptor and cable card for tivo this spring, You can now pick up at cust serv location and install yourself. Installed and spent lots of time trying to get to work. After about 6 hours and 4 restarts of the tivo service called cust serv, By this time it was early morning (2 am’ish). cust serv tried but said need to call during banking hours. Called late afternoon and after 45 min on hold and explaining the problem 2x finally got thru to right “specialist”. Could now get the majority of what I should channel wise. Still can’t get BBCA 75 but can get 73 and 97 and Lots of other channels in the digital tier don’t work. Channels that work with the tiny cisco digital tv adaptor that have on 2nd and 3rd tv get more channels than the tivo/tuning adaptor/ cable card. Had several reps in my earlier efforts tell me I should be able to get all I can with the Sci atlanta cable box but not interested in spending lots of time on hold, with “tech support” etc. Plan on having cable TV disconnected soon anyway (only got it for football season and kept beyond due to wife recovering from surgery).

    If all worked perfectly would I keep the cable tv? not at normal prices but when I had cable tv reinstalled got a discounted deal, but not dealing with their pathetic sci atlanta box and a half working TA. I have more worthwhile programming avail from OTA on the tivo than I have time to watch, then theres netflix, hulu plus and amazon prime and instant video for the cable programming I can’t do without.