Cablevision Supersizes Its Cloud DVR

Takes Aim at Rivals with Upgraded Network-Based Platform
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Cablevision Systems is seeking to trump the recording capabilities of its top competitors with the launch of an upgraded and rebranded network digital video recorder product that can record 10 shows at once — more than double the number its original offering could handle.

The new service, rechristened “Optimum Multi- Room DVR,” also adds storage and, at $12.95 per month, will cost a little more than “DVR Plus,” the service Cablevision first rolled out in the Bronx, N.Y., in January 2011.

In addition to the more-generous recording capabilities, the new DVR service expands storage to 75 hours of high-definition programming or more than 300 hours of standard-definition programming. By comparison, the $10.95 DVR Plus product allows users to store just 100 hours of SD content or 25 hours of HD video, and has the ability to record up to four shows at the same time.

The Optimum Multi-Room DVR service offers many features that are found in more traditional multiroom DVR setups that rely on local storage and coax-based high-speed networking systems. For example, it supports a 15-minute live-TV buffer and the ability to set up full-season recordings. It also gives customers the ability to manage and schedule recordings remotely via the Optimum App for iOS- and Android-powered tablets and smartphones.

Cablevision will apparently use the expanded recording capabilities as a marketing ploy against competitors that offer multiroom DVR with home-bound storage. “Customers can record 10 shows at once, more than FiOS and DirecTV combined, with hundreds of hours of storage for their favorite shows,” Cablevision vice president of video product management Bradley Feldman said in a statement released last week. That’s a message Cablevision is echoing in marketing materials touting the new product.

DirecTV’s new Genie DVR is capable of recording five shows at the same time, a feature that the satellite-TV giant has been using to poke fun at the more limited capabilities of many MSOsupplied DVRs that don’t always supply enough tuners to avoid recording conflicts.

The bigger, badder version of Cablevision’s cloud DVR is coming into focus as the MSO rolls out its network DVR product across the majority of its footprint in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. The only Cablevision market currently without access to it is Hamilton, N.J.

In May, during the MSO’s first-quarter earnings call, president of Optimum Services Kristin Dolan said more than 300,000 Cablevision customers subscribe to the MSO’s original DVR Plus package.

CableCard-based devices and eSATA drives are not compatible with Cablevision’s Multi-Room DVR product. The MSO, which has deployed a downloadable conditional access system, has selected Humax and Samsung to develop a next-generation “Future Services Portal” set-top that will focus on cloud-based services and apps, including the MSO’s network-based DVR and an advanced user interface.

For now, recordings made to Cablevision’s networkbased DVR are accessible only on set-tops, but the trend is toward more device agility.

Comcast, for example, is testing a Cloud DVR service in Philadelphia and Boston that will play back recordings in the home on set-tops, tablets, smartphones and other devices outfitted with “X2,” an updated version of the MSO’s video interface/operating system, which Comcast is expected to begin deploying this fall.

TAKEAWAY

Cablevision is seeking a competitive advantage with its new cloud-based DVR that can record as many as 10 shows at once.

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