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Cable/Video

Comcast beefs up cloud DVR storage

Comcast has quietly more than doubled the storage capacity of its cloud DVR product for X1, raising it from a mere 60 hours to 150 hours per sub.

Per this updated FAQ, Comcast began to beef up cloud DVR storage for its Xfinity Stream app and Xfinity Stream web portal at the end of April and was on track to complete the rollout sometime this month.

Comcast's Cloud DVR service for X1 is integrated with supported mobile and TV-connected streaming platforms. Pictured is the Xfinity Stream app running on an iPad.
Comcast's Cloud DVR service for X1 is integrated with supported mobile and TV-connected streaming platforms. Pictured is the Xfinity Stream app running on an iPad.

The storage expansion comes several years into the deployment of a cloud DVR platform that is now woven into Comcast's X1 pay-TV platform. Comcast started to test its cloud DVR in Boston and Philadelphia back in mid-2013 ahead of a broad commercial rollout. Today, the vast majority of Comcast's 19.90 million pay-TV subs are on X1. The cloud DVR service is available for no added charge to X1 customers that are already paying for a regular DVR.

In addition to setting recordings for playback on X1 boxes, smartphones, tablets, web browsers and Roku players and Roku TVs (via the Xfinity Stream app), Comcast's cloud DVR also allows users to download up to ten recorded programs for offline viewing.

A few Comcast X1 syndication partners have also introduced cloud DVR products. Canada's Rogers Communications currently offers a cloud DVR service for its Ignite TV platform coupled with 200 hours of storage. Cox Communications, another X1 syndicator, markets a cloud DVR as part of its new Contour pay-TV service (Light Reading has asked Cox for details on cloud DVR pricing and storage).

Update: Cox added an "Ultimate DVR Service" in the fall of 2019 that allows customers to record up to 24 shows at once along with 1,000 hours of storage. Per this web page, the Ultimate DVR offering costs $29.99 per month. Cox also markets less expensive DVR options that record fewer concurrent shows and provide less storage.

While Comcast's cloud DVR was a novel addition when the product was first rolled out years ago – building on the set-top-based remote-storage DVR initially deployed by Cablevision Systems (now Altice USA) in 2011 – cloud DVRs are more commonplace in US pay-TV, particularly among virtual multichannel video programming distributors. Traditional pay-TV providers have migrated to cloud DVRs to help cut down operational and capital expenditures when compared to legacy set-tops with local storage DVRs while also enabling service providers to bring DVR capabilities to devices bought at retail.

But there are also lots of variances between cloud DVR products from provider to provider. Here's a snapshot of how some of the other options on the market currently stack up:

  • Sling TV: All Sling TV subs get 10 hours of free cloud storage, and can pay $5 per month extra for Cloud DVR Plus, a service that expands storage to 50 hours.
  • fuboTV: 30 hours of cloud DVR storage is included in every basic package, and customers can pay $9.99 per month extra for 500 hours of storage.
  • Hulu Live TV: All Live TV subs get 50 hours of cloud DVR storage, and up to 200 hours with an add-on that costs $9.99 per month. Additionally, Hulu's premium-level, Enhanced DVR also allows customers to fast-forward through ad breaks in recorded programs.
  • YouTube TV: Unlimited storage with the caveat that recordings are kept for nine months.
  • Philo: Unlimited recordings that are kept for 30 days.
  • AT&T TV: Comes with 500 hours of cloud DVR storage, with recordings saved for up to 90 days.
  • Consolidated Communications, which has partnered with MobiTV for its new "CCiTV" streaming service, offers 50 hours of cloud DVR storage across its service tiers, with an option to add more storage, in 50-hour increments, for $5 more, up to 300 hours.

Among traditional cable ops, Charter Communications has also launched a two-tiered cloud DVR product available to customers who do not use operator-supplied receivers and/or are subscribed to services such as Spectrum TV Stream, Spectrum TV Choice and Spectrum TV Essentials. Charter's baseline cDVR costs and additional $4.99 per month (for recording up to 50 shows, saved for up to 90 days) and the cDVR Plus service fetches $9.99 per month (for up to 100 shows, saved for up to one year).

Charter's cloud DVR is accessible on web browsers, iOS and Android devices, select Roku devices, Apple TV boxes, with support for Samsung smart TVs and Microsoft Xbox One consoles on deck.

The cloud DVR for Altice USA's Altice One platform lets customers record up to 15 shows at once.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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