We have Verizon FiOS, an all-digital phone/TV/Internet service. We use the TV part of the service once every year or two. I tried the DVR for the first time this year to record the Olympics, starting with an 8-11 block on the local NBC channel. NBC decided that things were too exciting to quit precisely at 11, but the DVR quit exactly at 11 nonetheless. Thus we missed the part of the show that NBC deemed most interesting.
How is this possible? If the TV guide is all digital and the DVR is part of the cable box, how can it not know that a show is continuing? Does this happen in general? If a football game is scheduled for 3 hours, but goes into overtime and takes 3.5 hours, does the DVR miss the most important part of the game? If so, how is it possible that this kind of system engineering has persisted?
Back in the late 1980s some friends and I built a system to monitor the broadcast of TV commercials. A digital ID code was inserted into one of the unviewable lines of the analog signal and we designed a board populated by PALs to run a phase-locked loop that synced up to the NTSC signal and pulled out the information. By distributing these boards around the U.S. and equipping them with modems, we were able to have a server with a record of which commercials had been aired in which markets and when. If it was possible in the 1980s to identify a broadcast and do something reasonably intelligent, why isn’t it possible today for the Verizon set-top box?