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A Super Pitch on HD Shortages

With Super Bowl XLI (that's number 41) just days away, many consumers are rushing to upgrade to HDTV before kickoff. This week, HD means high demand, as well high definition.

The PR agency for Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s Connected Home Solutions unit tried to highlight this issue, and zing cable tech rival Scientific Atlanta in the process, by directing us to a news article from Syracuse, N.Y. A very helpful gesture, as we don't typically read the daily consumer news from Syracuse. The story reported that local Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) customers requesting HD DVR boxes before the big game were turned away last week due to a supply shortage. Ohhh nooo!

Here's the PR pitch from the agency:

    You may have seen the news that a DVR manufacturer for Time Warner has run out of high-definition DVR boxes... In contrast, Motorola has recently stepped up their shipments of high-definition DVR boxes after posting stellar shipment numbers for 2006.

The pitch included a message dated January 24 from the Website of WSYR-TV.

Unfortunately, some folks covering the cable industry didn't seem to understand the nuance of the barb, that Time Warner Cable is primarily a SA (Cisco) set-top shop. So, the PR man sent out an important correction on January 26:

    A few people have responded to my previous email asking if Motorola is having trouble sending shipments to Time Warner. The answer is a resounding NO! My apologies if I did not effectively get my point across. Motorola is experiencing huge demand as the number one provider of digital set-top boxes and is meeting this demand by shipping a record number of boxes.

Of course, Motorola is not shipping those boxes to Time Warner in Syracuse. But Motorola need not worry about the problem anymore. WSYR-TV, otherwise known as NewsChannel 9, reported that a boatload of new HD DVR boxes arrived January 26. For some reason, Moto's PR man failed to include this update from NewsChannel 9 in his update.

So here's the latest from WSYR-TV:

    Time Warner Cable in Syracuse says they have received hundreds of HDTV DVR cable boxes into their Fair Lakes Road office. Customers who were requesting the boxes earlier this week, were sent away. Time Warner Cable spokesperson Jeff Unatis tells NewsChannel 9 the company has received 1,500 of the boxes for customers who want them.

— Michael Harris, Chief Set-Top Shortage Investigator, Cable Digital News

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