Beginning last week, a subset of DirecTV subscribers may have experienced tighter HDMI output controls limiting their ability to view HBO via the television and connectivity options of their choice. The scope of the lockdown isn’t yet clear, but at least one HR20 owner and a THR22 (the new, old TiVo) have been negatively impacted by this change. Brent D. tells me there was zero proactive outreach and support informed him implementation was required by the studios by 4/12 and offered to send component cables to overcome his older Toshiba HDTV’s lack of High-bandwith Digital Content Protection (HDCP).
I reached out to both HBO and DirecTV for comment. HBO indicates their copy protection policies haven’t recently changed, while DirecTV’s rep confirms a HDCP requirement for premium channels when using HDMI connections and suggests customers with older TVs switch to component cables. I’d say this is anti-consumer and a misguided approach to reducing piracy as it’s much easier to archive video traveling via an analog component connection. Unless DirecTV or HBO’s ultimate intent is to provide lower resolution 540p video over component…
What makes this move particularly offensive is, unlike Blu-ray’s analog sunset, DirecTV’s lockdown is occurring on deployed hardware – with no outreach, knowledge base articles (that I can find), and essentially breaking formerly working customer configurations. Impacted subscribers can give up HDMI for component clutter or buy new televisions. Nice?
Brent points out the irony:
It is frustrating to be caught unaware and then not be able to watch the HBO subscription that I pay for. I am beginning to have sympathy for content pirates, as there are so many barriers to me actually using the subscription that I pay for. Yes, the subscription that I pay for! I pay for it!