Can you use a Genie DVR in your bar or restaurant (or tire shop, or hotel, or…)

DIRECTV just doesn’t allow it. There’s a big difference between commercial accounts and home ones. It’s not just in the DIRECTV world, it’s in all pay television. Commercial accounts are singled out because a lot of them put television in public areas. That opens up a whole different set of copyright laws.

You know this image, that appears in one way or another on pretty much every movie you have on disc? (It’s not super clear why it’s not on streaming media but let’s not complain.) It’s there because copyright holders have the right to make a profit if you show their stuff in public. They don’t have the same right if stuff is shown in a private home… in that case they are paid once and only once per item. With public viewing they get paid once per performance so essentially every time you show something in a bar, someone’s making money off it.

And that’s the real issue with any sort of DVR in a bar or restaurant. If you recorded it, you would have to pay every time you played it, and that would get to be a big mess, right? So DIRECTV’s solution is simple: no DVRs in public spaces, period.

For years, though, there’s been a loophole and it involves what we call “private viewing” accounts. These are commercial accounts where the customer is a business, but the TV is somewhere private. Think of the TV in the boss’s office or the company lunchroom. If the public isn’t invited in without a specific invitation, it’s a “private viewing” account and DIRECTV does allow a DVR.

An HR24 DVR. Not a Genie.

Really this is just a holdover from the days when HR24s were the norm. Genies were being sent to customers’ homes as fast as they could be made, so business accounts weren’t given them. You have to think the supply of Genie DVRs has stablilized somewhat since 2011 when the first one came out, but the policy is still there.

Let’s hope that at some point, things change. First of all, the H44 Genie Lite is probably a really good box for commercial accounts, at least it would be if you could get it. If you could get four of them all together, you could run three smart TVs off each one and that’s 12 TVs without any extra hardware. That sounds great to most bar and restaurant owners. Unfortunately, DIRECTV doesn’t support having more than one Genie on any account and that’s a problem right there. And if you did have Genie Lites in commercial accounts, they probably wouldn’t have DVR service.

Still, since the writing is on the wall for the old HR24 DVR — none are being made right now and it’s hard to know if any of them ever will be — at some point there will have to be some DVR that can be put on a DIRECTV commercial account, right? It would have to be a Genie DVR because that’s all there is.

So, friends, be patient. I don’t know when it will happen but sooner or later… it’s going to happen.