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Comcast Trials Its 'Super DVR'

Mari Silbey
7/9/2014
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There's a new DVR service in town.

Not content to let Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) soak up all the DVR glory, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is now trialing a "Super DVR" service that lets users record and watch up to 15 programs at the same time. TV ads for the service were spotted in select cities back in May and reported by users on the DSLReports forums.

Since then Multichannel News has confirmed (subscription required) that Comcast is piloting its Super DVR in the northeastern regions of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

While Comcast is marketing the Super DVR as something new, it appears that the branded service is really only a way of highlighting to consumers that they can hook three X1 set-tops together to maximize tuning and recording capacity. A source within Comcast noted that it's actually possible for X1 users to combine set-tops in any Xfinity market, and that the service should work with both Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Pace plc DVRs. Comcast leases DVRs for $20 per month each. (See Comcast Cloud DVR Storms Down East Coast.)

Touting the recording capacity of a DVR service -- like promoting the number of HD channels in an earlier year -- is the new marketing measure for pay-TV providers. However, it's not clear that subscribers actually care about being able to watch and record more than a handful of shows at once.

On the marketing score sheet, Comcast now ties Cablevision, which also enables recording of up to 15 shows with its network-based DVR. Verizon supports 12 concurrent shows with its Quantum TV service.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/10/2014 | 7:23:59 AM
ALL THE SPORTS!
Back when I had a fancy cable package, I thought DVR was AWESOME.  It was a guilty pleasure to pause live shows.  Sometimes I'd do it for the heck of it.  It was my favorite feature by far.

But there were definitely some times that being limited to recording one show while watching another was a limit that hampered my ability to watch all the shows I wanted.  I don't imagine hitting that 15 mark, but 3-5 would certainly be reasonable I think for many consumers.

15 would be great for mega-sports fans, I suppose, who want to watch ALL the Major League Baseball games.  ;)
mhhf1ve
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mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 4:24:27 PM
DVR vs On-Demand?
It seems strange to tout an ever-increasing number of simultaneous TV shows able to be recorded when more and more shows are available a la carte and on-demand and streaming... What is the point of recording a show if you can just stream or download it whenever you want to later? I suppose if you want to watch every event in the Olympics...?
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 3:20:10 PM
Re: Way too much TV
@mendyk that seems to defeat the purpose of lunch for some people. I'm not on Instagram myself but am subjected to food pictures every time one of my FB connections feels the urge to show off what she's cooked. It's not even artfully arranged -- usually just rows of stuff in aluminum pans -- but she feels a need to share it with the world. 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 3:20:09 PM
Re: Way too much TV
@mendyk that seems to defeat the purpose of lunch for some people. I'm not on Instagram myself but am subjected to food pictures every time one of my FB connections feels the urge to show off what she's cooked. It's not even artfully arranged -- usually just rows of stuff in aluminum pans -- but she feels a need to share it with the world. 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 3:13:47 PM
Re: Way too much TV
Yes -- I read that in the dead-tree version at lunch today. The lunch itself was not photogenic.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 3:10:20 PM
Re: Way too much TV
@mendyk that's terrific. You may also enjoy this: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/09/dining/dishes-worthy-of-instagram-but-not-your-appetite.html?_r=0 " A side effect of the digital age in food photography, camera cuisine is any dish that was inspired by a picture or aspires to be one. Like any genre of cooking, camera cuisine varies widely in quality, but in its purest form it is both exquisitely photogenic and peculiarly bland and lifeless. "
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 2:57:23 PM
Re: Way too much TV
My favorite sign this year was displayed in a pub in Camdentown: Post a photo of your meal on Instagram and win a FREE CONCUSSION!
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 2:53:39 PM
Re: Way too much TV
@mendyK ah, a way for them to self-destruct like the secret messages in Mission Impossible. 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 2:50:43 PM
Re: Way too much TV
Exploding selfies -- now that's a concept I can get behind.
Ariella
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50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/9/2014 | 2:46:09 PM
Re: Way too much TV
@mendyk since you asked, I looked it up and found an estimate here, "Number of photos taken in 2014 will approach 1 trillion thanks to selfie explosion"

 


 
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