Video services

Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR

3:55 PM -- Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)'s network DVR is definitely out of the soft-launch phase.

The MSO hasn't revealed how many customers have signed up for its recently launched DVR Plus service (a 2011 Leading Lights winner, by the way), but we're getting a much better sense of how Cablevision is promoting the service, which runs $10.95 per month (the same price as a set-top with a local DVR) and currently is offered in the MSO's New York City- and Connecticut-area systems.

This "Secret Passages" video spot created for the MSO by Gardner Nelson + Partners Inc. plays up the multi-room capabilities of DVR Plus while taking a shot at one of Cablevision's prime competitors, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). "I can set, record, and watch shows from any TV in my house. You can't do all that with FiOS," the preppy pitch man proclaims in the ad, which started running earlier this month.

However, the ad also mentions something else that I think is a tad more interesting, in that it looks to create impulse-buying opportunities.

DVR Plus puts storage on the network so, provided the customer already uses digital boxes that are compatible with the service, they can upgrade instantly without having to set an appointment or install any new equipment. And there's no truck roll -- customers can sign up for the upgrade by visiting channel 905.

While it's still early days for DVR Plus, it's clear that Cablevision is trying to take advantage of the operational efficiencies of a network DVR that traditional DVRs with built-in storage can't deliver. (See Cablevision Eyes $50 Set-Top.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:47:51 PM
re: Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR

Cablevision's ad doesn't get into the techincal aspects of DVR Plus... customers will just want it to work regardless of whether storage is happening locally or on the MSO's network and probably could not care less about the legal tussle Cablevision had to endure to get this up and running.

 But would you go for Cablevision's DVR Plus pitch given that it's the same price as a traditional DVR, but also has multi-room capabilities so long as you had compatible boxes?  For me, I'd still wonder how responsive the network-based system is when a program is being paused, fast-forwarded and rewound.  A local DVR responds to trick play functions very well. 

Would you be willing to give the nDVR a shot if given this choice? JB

Russo0 12/5/2012 | 4:47:49 PM
re: Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR

DVR responsiveness should be the same as VOD

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 4:47:47 PM
re: Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR

Yes, nDVR responsiveness needs to be the same as VOD -- or even better than some current VOD systems. In theory, both should align because they're relying on similar server-based systems, though nDVR gets more complex.

If responsiveness is slow on nDVR, it will be DOA with consumers. I'm in the Cablevision footprint and their initial VOD was "mushy" -- if you hit the pause button there was a lag in the response time. But they appear to have resolved the latency issue because the VOD response now seems instantaneous. We don't have nDVR yet but I'm anxious to try it! 


AESerm 12/5/2012 | 4:47:46 PM
re: Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR

Yes, I'd go for it, simply to eliminate a box. That might be a common appeal. But I'd also go for it simply to confirm part of the network PVR vision that Jim Chiddix spelled out a decade ago, way back at SCTE's Emerging Technologies event in 2002.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:47:45 PM
re: Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR

Yeah, I agree it would have to be at least as good as VoD trick-play responsivness, and better if that's possible. I'm still trying to find some consumer reviews of it... so Craig we may be relying on you for one when you get a chance to sign up.

For now,  DVR Plus lets each subscriber store up to  100 hours of SD programming, so guessing that would translate to about 25 hours or so of HD...not exactly a heaping helping, but it shouldn't be too hard for Cablevision to expand that amount since it's all done on the network. And it could give them another upgrade opportunity and sell DVR Plus tiers that add storage if the customer is willing to pay a bit more each month.




craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 4:47:45 PM
re: Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR

Good memory. It was Jim Chiddix and Time Warner that really got the ball rolling with the "network PVR" idea that they branded as Mystro. It followed the Full Service Network trial in Orlando, which, though much maligned, was the birthplace of true VOD. So Chiddix and crew saw the potential benefits of running all TV content through a server-based network architecture. 

The economics of nDVR were debatable back then and the bigger concern was content rights. So Time Warner scrapped the project and Cablevision picked up the ball, skirting the legal issues with the RS-DVR concept.

So now the question is, who will jump on the nDVR bandwagon next? Or will MSOs migrate toward an nDVR model through a transition to all-IP service delivery?    


jhuppertz 12/5/2012 | 4:47:44 PM
re: Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR


nDVR does not eliminate a box, unless you are talking about a standalone DVR box such as Tivo.  The sub still needs a digital STB on each TV they want to receive/control nDVR at.

Point well made with respect to Mystro and our friend Jim.

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 4:47:44 PM
re: Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR

Yup, I had a standalone box in mind. You're right, Jeff, there are plenty of integrated DVR set-tops out there. But I believe Cablevision has stopped buying physical DVRs for its subs.

msilbey 12/5/2012 | 4:47:39 PM
re: Cablevision Plugs Its Network DVR

I think nDVR is a very likely stop on the path to all-IP delivery. And the MSOs should be eternally grateful to Cablevision for fighting the early battles here. Once you get programmers used to in-home place-shifting (controlled in the network), you've got a great stepping stone for arguing that consumers should be able to access content on any connected device. Take a look at the live-streaming apps available now from MSOs. They're currently confined by the boundaries of a subscriber's home, but Cox has already stated publically that it's working to change that. 

Separately- I've heard rumblings that 2012 could be a big year for nDVR. Rumor is that there are lots of new trials in the works. 

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