Video services

Will Concurrent Wield Its New nDVR Weapon?

Concurrent Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: CCUR) appears to have the gained the legal high ground when it comes to network DVR (nDVR) applications and services after scoring a key patent that manages how effectively and efficiently video is ingested into the system and prepared for playback.

The patent (No. 7,877,468) describes "systems and methods for vertically integrated data distribution and access management." (See Concurrent Lands nDVR Patent.)

Boiled down further, the patent is really about the management and scheduling of network, storage, and caching devices and resources so they can ingest massive amounts of video and prepare it for almost immediate playback. Depending on the deployment model, some nDVRs will need to simultaneously ingest and prepare video for more than 150 channels. That ingest challenge -- considered the Achilles' heel of any nDVR -- becomes even tougher when HD video enters the picture.

"It's a huge technological challenge and this patent addresses that and presents a solution," says Concurrent EVP of corporate affairs Kirk Sommer, noting that the company has already incorporated the capability into its MediaHawk content delivery system.

He says the capability can be applied to a wide range of nDVR applications, including "Start Over" -- a service championed by Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) that lets customers restart shows already in progress -- and the Remote-Storage DVR service recently introduced by Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) that puts traditional set-top-based DVR capabilities, including storage, on the network. It could also apply to video-optimized content distribution networks (CDNs), Sommer says. (See Time Warner Cable Hints at Video CDN Plan and Comcast's 'Project Infinity' Takes Flight .)

Concurrent originally filed for the patent in April 2004, and it was granted on January 25, 2011.

Coincidentally, Concurrent received the patent just days after Cablevision soft-launched its RS-DVR service, called DVR Plus, in the New York borough of the Bronx. (See Cablevision's Network DVR Debuts in the Bronx .)

Sommer confirmed that Concurrent isn't involved in the MSO's RS-DVR deployment. However, it has worked extensively with TW Cable and Bright House Networks , which have both deployed Start Over and "Look Back," a newer service that lets subs catch up on certain programs that have aired within the last 72 hours.

Why this matters
Depending on how Concurrent plays this card, the patent could produce a string of lucrative licensing deals with traditional VoD rivals such as SeaChange International Inc. (Nasdaq: SEAC) and Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), and perhaps extend to a CDN field that includes Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) and Limelight Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: LLNW)

Or, if licensing deals can't be struck, it could result in Concurrent issuing a litany of lawsuits.

"We will address our opportunities on a case-by-case basis," Sommer said. "We don’t have our signs set in any particular direction."

For more
Here's a glance at recent nDVR deployments and legal developments. — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:14:19 PM
re: Will Concurrent Wield Its New nDVR Weapon?

Well, at least that's CCUR's position on it.. that it would apply across differrent types of nDVR implementations . If no one plays ball on licensing and this ends up as a sticky court battle, we may indeed find out if there's a judge that agrees with you on that count. But I'd give CCUR a better fighting chance than that patent troll that popped up on the VoD front earlier this week. JB

ycurrent 12/5/2012 | 5:14:19 PM
re: Will Concurrent Wield Its New nDVR Weapon?

let me venture to suggest that if Concurrent's nDVR patent can be equally applied to a wide variety of applications - Cablevision's RS-DVR, start-over services, and CDN implementations -where the technical challenges (such as massively scalable ingest) are different, then the patent was likely too broadly granted.

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:14:17 PM
re: Will Concurrent Wield Its New nDVR Weapon?

That's true, rs-dvr doesn't do caching for the copyright reasons you point out, but rs-dvr still needs to handle massive ingest to get it through the funnel and stored on the servers. And ingest resource management, in CCUR's view, falls under the juristiction of the patent, which, to your earlier point, is being viewed broadly (too broadly?) by CCUR. Jeff

ycurrent 12/5/2012 | 5:14:17 PM
re: Will Concurrent Wield Its New nDVR Weapon?

Seems much more likely that the patent is for CDN-type architectures where content is cached and delivered from decentralized edge locations on the network.  While this might apply to some nDVR applications (especially outside the US), and start-over services, it is not likely (my opinion) to apply to Cablevision's nDVR or similar applications, particularly since the legal stipulation for Cablevision likely prevents content from being cached.  By extension, applications for licensed content that cannot be cached are probably not in the scope of this patent.

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