DVRs No Big Deal Yet

6:00 PM -- To hear some people tell it, digital video recorders (DVRs) are totally transforming the TV landscape, giving hordes of viewers unprecedented control over what they watch and when they watch it. The networks are crying foul. Advertisers are quaking and shaking in their boots.

Indeed, the number of folks with DVRs in their homes is certainly on the upswing. In a new survey, Leichtman Research Group Inc. (LRG) found that about 12 percent of U.S. households have a DVR. That's up from a mere 3 percent just two years ago, before most cable operators were actively hawking the machines.

Likewise, a recent study by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) found that 17 percent of cable homes have a DVR, up from a modest 7 percent only a year earlier. Even more impressively, the study found, 30 percent of digital cable subscribers now have one of these newfangled digital recorders.

So DVRs really are a big deal, eh? Uh, not really. Even though they may now be in close to 15 million American homes, they haven't exactly revolutionized the way that most of us watch TV just yet.

Consider some other LRG study tidbits. Despite the jump in DVR take rates, the consulting group found that recorded DVR programs still account for an extremely tiny share of all TV viewing. In fact, DVR and video-on-demand programs together accounted for less than 4 percent of all U.S. TV viewing, up from about 2 percent a year ago, as viewers tend to watch them only as a last resort.

So let's not jump the gun yet on DVRs, OK? Come back in three or four years and then we'll talk.

— Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 3:46:29 AM
re: DVRs No Big Deal Yet I'm now stuck with a crappy out-of-date Tivo that I junked in favor of a new Comcast *free* DVR that also does HDTV. What do I do with the Tivo? I paid $300 just 1.5 years ago and it's now virtually worthless

I was amazed that Tivo, the pioneer in the technology, got beaten punch on HDTV. Ooops -Party foul.

But there's also a new limitation to the Comcast DVR: It only captures 16 hours of HD. So lately, I've been stressing out about which World Cup games I have to erase to make room for more episodes of Entourage: I can't junk the Zidane head-butt game. Nor the "Argentinians-pick-a-fight-with-the-Germans" game (BTW, would not a Germany/Argentina war be one the ugliest things you've ever seen?). And nope, can't erase the Wayne-Rooney-steps-on-a-guys-crotch-and-gets-ejected game, either. Damn. That's at least 8 hours of disk time right there!

Yes, the WC was so memorable. Not for the actual football, mind you.
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 3:46:28 AM
re: DVRs No Big Deal Yet re: "And nope, can't erase the Wayne-Rooney-steps-on-a-guys-crotch-and-gets-ejected game, either."

That problem makes a case for the network-based DVR, but the content won't allow them (yet).

Another possible solution -- get a DVD recorder and see if you can burn copies of the games onto discs. But then they won't be in HD anymore.



Sign In