TiVo pre-roll advertising has arrived. And the experience is less than ideal. Basically, all retail hardware running the TiVo Experience 4 (TE4 aka Hydra) will insert video commercial interruption at the start of your DVR recordings by the end of the year. Sure, the ads are skippable. But that’s not the point. Especially given its quirky and sluggish first cut (given retail customer’s ongoing role beta testing potential TiVo MSO initiatives). So, how to opt-out?
Option 1: Downgrade from Hydra
TiVo pre-roll advertising is a Hydra-only exclusive. The TiVo HDUI (TE3) remains exempt with no current plans to bring ads to the platform nor force an upgrade. And, fortunately, nearly all Roamio, Bolt, and Mini hardware can be downgraded to TE3. The newest TiVo Bolt OTA and the TiVo Edge are the exception, sorry people.
The Hydra rollback process isn’t so challenging… assuming you’re OK letting all your recordings go. Unfortunately, you also give up automatic commercial skip in order to automatically commercial skip TiVo’s new revenue generator. And even more painful for those who have the hardware, you’ll lose Vox remote voice control capabilities… which will likely be replaced with frequent nags to upgrade to Hydra to enable.
Hydra downgrade procedure for DVR:
- Go into Menu- Help- Reset to Defaults- Repeat Guided Setup- Select
- Press Thumbs Down 2 times (NOT 3!), now press Rewind 2 times, Now press Select (not Enter)
- DVR will immediately go to that right arrow screen, then screen blank, then you’ll get a message letting you know that the rollback process has begun
Hydra downgrade procedure for Mini:
- Go to Menu- Help- Repeat Guided Setup- press Thumbs Down 3 times and press Enter OR
- You’ll already see the “downgrade” screen and it will prompt you from there
- You’ll now see the “old” Guided Setup. Go thru that so the Mini can phone home
- The Mini will phone home and prompt you once again to go thru Guided Setup
- After the 2nd Guided Setup completion, you should be back in business
If you’re intent upon keeping your recordings, the level of difficulty and time commitment is significantly greater. Should you be so motivated — pytivo is the tool you’ll want to move recordings from TiVo to computer, prior to the rollback, and then back again.
Option 2: Call TiVo to plead your case
While TiVo chose not to proactively alert its retail customers of incoming pre-roll advertising, nor to compensate us in any manner, their customer support team was ready primed and ready for our calls. And, apparently, a number of us will be able to opt-out:
our customer support organization does have the ability to opt a customer out of this functionality. I believe there are a number of criteria that go into determining whether a customer is eligible for this (tenure, service plan, etc.). I don’t think it’s as easy as just calling us up and asking to be opted out.
Fortunately, it seems that whatever criteria was initially prescribed has been at least temporarily pushed aside … as I’m not aware of anyone’s request being rejected. Call 877-367-8486 and ask that the pre-roll advertising be disabled on your account. Should you need a justification, feel free to cite the bugginess. There have been ads I’ve been unable to skip, times hardware has locked up, video rendering issues, and even reboots. The struggle is real. Should TiVo play ball, the “feature” will be removed from your devices within 72 hours. However, no telling how long the flag sticks or at what point the policy changes given the upcoming company split and ongoing executive roulette.
Option 3: Counter Measures
Unfortunately for my family, I’m taking neither Option 1 nor Option 2… as I intend to keep the ads around long enough to determine if there are any effective technological counter measures we might bring to bear. So stay tuned on that front.