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Verizon FiOS Seeks Gold in DVR Wars

Alan Breznick
4/2/2014
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Seeking to trump its rival pay-TV providers, Verizon is introducing a new FiOS TV service that allows subscribers to record up to 12 shows at once on their DVR-equipped set-top boxes.

The new service from Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), known as FiOS Quantum TV, also offers the ability to store up to 200 hours of HD programming, with 2 terabytes of storage space. It represents a major upgrade from the current FiOS TV multi-room DVR service, which lets customers record just two shows simultaneously and store up to 50 hours of HD fare.

As a result, FiOS Quantum TV takes the lead in the burgeoning DVR wars among the leading US pay-TV providers. Its ability to record up to 12 programs at once tops the previous high of 10 programs set by New York-area rival Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) last year when it launched the latest version of its network-based Optimum DVR product. (See Cablevision's Expanding Network DVR.)

But there's a catch. Unlike the DVR services from such competitors as Cablevision (10 shows at once), Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) (eight shows at once), DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) (five shows at once), and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s U-verse (four shows at once), the new Verizon FiOS service depends on more than one master set-top box in the home to reach its maximum potential. So its installation could be more complicated and costly for customers. (See Comcast Cloud DVR Launches in Philly, Chicago Next.)

Specifically, the FiOS Quantum TV service relies on a new video gateway box from Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS). Known as the Verizon Media Server, this gateway comes equipped with six tuners and 1 terabyte of storage. That enables it to record up to six shows simultaneously and store up to 100 hours of HD programming. Attached to one TV, the gateway acts as he main hub for up to five TVs in the home, with the other TVs connected to much smaller set-tops, or media clients.

Thus, to reach the 12-show recording maximum, FiOS TV subscribers must take two video gateways in the home. That will also allow them to connect up to 10 TVs if they wish.

Verizon, which has rolled out FiOS Quantum TV in two markets so far, is pitching the two-gateway, 12-show DVR service as its premium brand. The product costs an additional $20 month for current multi-room DVR subscribers, plus a one-time $25 equipment upgrade fee.

The big telco, which closed out 2013 with 5.3 million FiOS TV subscribers, is also offering the single-gateway, six-show version as its enhanced brand. This product costs an extra $10 month for current multi-room DVR subscribers, plus the one-time $25 equipment upgrade fee.

Verizon is rolling out FiOS Quantum TV first in north Texas and Harrisburg, Penn., where it conducted beta trials of the new service. Plans call for extending the service to other FiOS-TV markets in phases over the next few months.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/4/2014 | 7:30:29 PM
How about Cox?
We have Cox Communications, and a DVR that's in many ways not as good as the TiVo we bought in 1999. 

Sigh. 
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
4/2/2014 | 9:35:20 PM
Re: Wow
Yep, Carol. I think you're right on there. There are still restrictions on what content can be streamed or taken outside the home, no matter what the device. Service providers and content owners still have to work out a lot of these rights issues. But the good news is that they're actually finally syarting to do it. We'll see how long it all takes now.    
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
4/2/2014 | 9:32:52 PM
Re: DirecTV's 9 tuners - 2 terabyte system is over two years old.
Yep, definitely a marketing ploy more than anything else. I have my doubts about how successful it will be. Seems pretty transparent, doesn't it?
Bill Van
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Bill Van,
User Rank: Moderator
4/2/2014 | 6:30:05 PM
DirecTV's 9 tuners - 2 terabyte system is over two years old.
I wrote a review of the DirecTV's HR34 DVR now call Genie in February 2012 for the HT Guys (home theater podcasters).  In my review I explained that my new 3 DVR whole home system has 9 active tuners and 2 terabytes of storage.

I'm a very heavy DVR user and I have only used more than 6 tuners at a time once and that was during the 2012 summer olympics.  I use the third DVR not for the extra tuners but for the extra storage capacity.

So in reality, Verizon's 12 tuner DVR is actually a marketing ploy and is actually 2 years late to the DVR party.

Here is my 2012 review:   http://www.htguys.com/news/2012/2/24/directvs-hr34-hd-dvr-with-rvu.html
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
4/2/2014 | 3:51:51 PM
Re: Wow
I think the content does have to be downloaded to the device while it is in the home. 

Sarah, don't be too disappointed -- the X1 Cloud DVR service hasn't hit Chicago yet. And the existing Comcast DVR service is pretty weak  -- you can only record two shows at one time on one DVR and play them back in other rooms on dumb devices. 
Sarah Thomas
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Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/2/2014 | 3:44:31 PM
Re: Wow
Darn, I regret giving up Comcast for U-Verse, where the only special feature is a bill that magically increases every month.
thebulk
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thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/2/2014 | 3:43:28 PM
Re: Wow
In that case you can download it to a device but you can not stream it, right? it has to be physically on the device? 
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
4/2/2014 | 3:36:02 PM
Re: Wow
So according to a source who weighed in via email. Comcast's X1 Cloud DVR lets you download material from the DVR to another device - and then take it with you. 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/2/2014 | 3:14:48 PM
Re: Wow
I have Verizon FIOS for internet, and it is always pushing its TV services on me. I always decline.
thebulk
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thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/2/2014 | 2:18:40 PM
Re: Wow
Slowly, but yes. But a lot of things need to line up for that to happen.  Services providers and content providers will need to see eye to eye on some things to really clear the path for that. 

Luckly I think the process has picked up the pace over the past few years. 
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