Cablevision Systems, the cable TV operator most likely to suffer from any success Verizon Communications has selling FiOS in New York City, had a very positive week last week. The company reported better-than-expected earnings, and also made news on technology and service fronts.
Company officials during the firm's fourth quarter earnings call made a long-anticipated commercial commitment to network DVR technology, saying Cablevision would launch its Remote Storage-DVR service starting next month. A few years back, after a large trial, RS-DVR was shaping up as a pioneering attempt at a new kind of DVR model based on local network storage of content--until the effort drew legal challenges from content companies. Cablevision last year gained the right to launch its service after the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not hear appeals to Cablevision's previous court victory in the matter.
Speculation has long swirled about a potential commercial launch, with some observers even believing that the launch would happen as early as last summer, in timing with the Supreme Court announcement. Launching now, Cablevision still gets pioneer status, but it likely will not be long before other service providers pursue similar launches. Telcos, in particular, probably have been waiting to see if new legal hurdles appeared.
Cablevision did not commit to a price or specific amount of storage, though Broadband Reports notes that the company has previously discussed a $9.95 charge for 160 Gigabytes. The launch, of course, means that Cablevision will wind down its spending on physical DVR devices and related technology.
The RS-DVR news came a day after Cablevision talked publicly about plans to launch another new service targeted at capturing some of the energy around the hybrid online/TV viewing trends. The company's PC to TV Media Relay service will allow PC-based content and applications to be shared on the TV screen on a dedicated TV channel, provided that Cablevision is both the broadband Internet and TV service provider in the home. The service, which requires a software download, will start as a trial in June.
Being able to funnel online video from the PC over to the TV will be one of the advantages, but porting email and other communications and social media applications seems to have some additional potential for changing how households use their TVs.
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