“My Genie DVR says it needs to change channels. How can that be?”

It’s rare, but it happens. You get a message on your Genie DVR saying it needs to change channels to record something. The Genie DVR has five tuners, but every so often it does run out. Here are some possibilities:

People in other rooms are watching live TV.
The Genie clients take a tuner from the DVR. So if three people are all watching live TV in their rooms, that leaves two tuners for the DVR. If you’re watching live TV, that’s one, and if you’re recording something that’s two. If you’re recording something else coming up next, there’s all five tuners.

You really are recording five things.
This has really only happened to me maybe half a dozen times but it’s possible. You could be recording five things based on your recording preferences.

Or… autopad.
There’s another option and it’s a little harder to explain. It would be great if shows began and ended at exactly the same time but they don’t. Sometimes shows overlap a little bit and that’s why your DVR starts recording a bit early and stops recording a bit late so that you won’t miss that crucial first or last word of dialogue. That can eat up tuners, so if you’re recording two things now, watching live TV and recording two things next (on different channels) that’s all five tuners in use. If it can, the Genie DVR is smart enough to disable this feature but it also knows when channels start a few seconds early or late and won’t disable automatic padding (that’s what they call it) if it knows you’ll likely miss something.

When you get this message you will have the option to cancel an upcoming recording or automatically change the channel. Usually it’s the lowest item on the list that will be canceled. If you are behind live TV and you want to keep watching what you’re watching, you’ll need to catch up because the live picture will go away when the channel needs to record.

It’s also worth pointing out that in some cases if you’re watching live TV and also recording that same channel, sometimes DIRECTV calls that two tuners in use and that can also explain why you are being asked to change channels when you think you have plenty of recording capacity.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.