DirecTV’s current ad campaign hammers home the message that the satellite TV operator provides remote scheduling of its DVRs — and cable doesn’t.
In the faux Cable Corp. Inc. boardroom spot in the series, the executive played by John Michael Higgins (Best in Show, Kim & Kath) proposes to create some “brand heat” countering DirecTV’s remote-DVR feature with a new marketing slogan: “Get Youthenized!”
Whereupon another exec spouts, “We’re gonna ‘youthenize’ America!”
It’s pretty funny — you can watch the ad here.
But where’s the cable industry? The MSOs aren’t as clueless as DirecTV implies, but they’re not there yet.
Comcast at CES 2008 talked about providing DVR scheduling through Fancast — and about offering the capability to other MSOs — but hasn’t launched it yet.
Meanwhile, Cox plans to let subscribers remotely schedule their DVRs in its next-generation tru2way guide, which is scheduled for a late-summer launch. That guide is being developed by NDS (see Cox Gasses Up Next-Generation Guide). Note that NDS is also the supplier for DirecTV’s guide.
But bringing out such a simple-sounding feature is isn’t a trivial task, according to Corey Ferengul, Macrovision’s executive vice president of product management and marketing. Macrovision is the company that acquired Gemstar-TV Guide and provides several interactive program guides to the cable market, including the Passport IPG.
“There are lots of moving parts,” he said. “It’s a much more complicated feature than anyone believes. We’re trying to figure out the right approach.”
The feature, Ferengul pointed out, isn’t brand-new. Gemstar-TV Guide introduced it, for example, two years ago (see Gemstar-TV Guide Gets Personal with IPG).
“We were using TVGuide.com to set up remote DVR, but didn’t have a lot of cable takers,” he said. “Now you have a big ad campaign, and people’s priorities change,” he noted.
Macrovision has not announced any plans to incorporate DVR remote-scheduling into any of its IPGs, but Ferengul said the company is looking into it.
“There are different ways to do it, that’s part of the assessment,” he said. “It requires back-office integration to authenticate subscribers — it’s an investment in time and effort.”
Now, what about a Slingbox-style service?
Well, said Ferengul, “that’s another one of those points where it’s easier to talk about it on a road map than to talk about it as a deployable feature.”