Author: Bob Scheffler, Director, Next-Generation Video Solutions
Network-based DVR has been years in the making, but cable companies are pursuing the technology with renewed momentum in the wake of Cablevision’s legal successes. After protracted battles in court, Cablevision launched its Remote Storage DVR (RS-DVR) service earlier this year, and now others are taking a closer look. In discussions with our own cable customers, we’ve seen interest in network DVR (nDVR) services spike recently, and more operators are now putting nDVR contracts out for bid. Comcast even went on the record in June saying that it will begin testing a network-based DVR service later this year or early next.
If the timeline for network DVR rollouts is interesting, so, too is the reason why cable companies are moving in the direction of cloud-based television. It’s not because they want to save on storage, but rather because they want an easier way to enable multi-device access. TV Everywhere initiatives marked the start of cable multi-screen delivery services, but the idea of giving consumers access to the content they record and not just content that’s available online is much more compelling. For consumers, network DVR with multi-screen access brings control and personalization. For operators, it offers a way to increase the value of bundled TV services, particularly as more online video content moves behind pay walls and can’t be accessed easily or quickly without authentication.
The network DVR timeline for most US cable operators reaches out 18 to 24 months from now, which means by the end of 2012 we should see numerous trials and regional service launches. DVR service will start to look a lot more like video on-demand, but it will also include more control and flexibility, not to mention new revenue opportunities for cable operators, and a boost in competitive advantage in the fracturing television market.