Summer Debut for Cablevision Network DVR
Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) plans to deploy its controversial Remote Storage-DVR (RS-DVR) some time this summer, according to a report from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett.
"We'll be rolling out our first product based on [the RS-DVR] later this summer. We'll move to centralized storage," Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge told the analyst, noting that the company still believes its approach is on solid legal footing.
Last fall, the MSO indicated that the service could be up and running by early 2009. (See RS-DVR Debut: 'Early Next Year' .)
Cablevision sees the RS-DVR as a big capex saver, as deployment of the service would cost about $100 less per customer, compared with giving every sub a set-top box outfitted with a hard drive. It also solves a problem of in-home wiring: An RS-DVR implementation could be configured as whole-home DVR that doesn't require Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) or another advanced home-networking platform to shuttle video around the home's network.
Studios, programmers, and other content holders generally oppose the RS-DVR. But Cablevision has prevailed so far, as the courts have said the network-based system doesn't directly infringe on copyright rules and should be granted the same protections already governing stand-alone DVRs and VHS machines. (See Lawsuits Could Nuke Network DVR, Net DVR Still Appealing for Cablevision and Court Resurrects Cablevision's Network DVR .)
In the most recent legal matter, the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Department of Justice weigh in on the appeals court ruling in January, indicating that the high court may eventually determine the fate of the RS-DVR. (See Supremes Consider Cablevision's RS-DVR .)
However, Cablevision now believes that the MSO and programmers can eventually find common ground without further legal intervention.
"I think ultimately we'll end up in some commercial arrangement with programmers. We're having discussions with the copyright holders that can make the network DVR model work in their best interests," said Rutledge, as quoted in Moffett's report.
Those comments could portend a change of direction for Cablevision on the subject of advertising. Previously, Cablevision said it the RS-DVR would function like a regular DVR, meaning it would not prevent viewers from fast-forwarding through the advertising.
But the MSO may be willing to disable that function as Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) does for "Start Over," an application that restarts shows that are already in progress. Another possibility: Cablevision may try to appeal to programmers by coupling RS-DVR recordings with addressable/targeted advertising, a capability it's also rolling out this summer.
Cablevision was not immediately available for further comment Tuesday morning.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
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