In move to MPEG-4 Comcast is calling in old set-tops, but won’t replace lost DVR recordings

Comcast X1
Comcast continues to deploy its new X1 set-top box.

As Comcast continues to seed its customer base with its new X1 set-top box, the company is working to upgrade some customers’ legacy set-top boxes. However, that transition doesn’t appear to be faultless, since some customers won’t be able to keep their DVR recordings as they move to the cable company’s new platform.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in a recent article, roughly 5% of Comcast’s current customers have an outdated set-top box that offers DVR capability but won’t support the company’s new MPEG-4 HD channels. The company is working to upgrade those customers’ set-top boxes with Comcast’s new X1 platform, which offers the more efficient MPEG-4 channels.

However, as the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, customers caught up in that transition won’t be able to move the recordings saved on their legacy DVR set top to Comcast’s new cloud DVR system for its X1 platform.

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“There’s no legal recourse for the loss of previous recordings,” Inquirer reporter Jonathan Takiff wrote. “User agreements that are signed before activating gadgets hold that the maker or supplier can’t be held liable for more than the cost of the hardware if or when the product fails to perform.”

Affected set-top models from Comcast include DCH3416, DCT6200, DCH3200, DCT6412, DCT3416, DCT6416, DCT5100, DCH6200, DCT3412 and DCT6208.

Related: Comcast X1 at 3 years: Painfully slow rollout belies platform's potential to keep cable in the video business

Of course, Comcast isn’t alone in working to upgrade its set-top box base. The issue has affected virtually every cable operator in the United States and globally—as video technologies continue to improve, and operators work to offer additional services, cable companies have often run up against aging set tops that don’t have the horsepower to support newer offerings. The situation is particularly prickly for service providers loath to fork out potentially hundreds of dollars to upgrade each of their deployed set-top boxes.

For its part, Comcast has been working for years to move its 23 million-subscriber base to its new X1 platform. Earlier this year, the company said it had deployed X1s to nearly half of its customer base—the company initially began deploying X1 in 2012.

However, it’s worth noting that Comcast has routinely cited its rising customer satisfaction scores and its pay-TV growth on the success of its X1. Moreover, Cox in the United States and Shaw Communications and Rogers Communications in Canada have licensed Comcast’s X1 so that they too may offer the platform to their own customers.

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