S-A: DVRs Help Curb Cable Defections to DBS


Boston -- Once cable subscribers get digital-video recorders, they are less likely to drop cable for satellite, according to research being released by Scientific-Atlanta Inc.

The set-top vendor commissioned CENTRIS (Communications, Entertainment and Technology Research and Information Service) to analyze 100,000 consumer surveys between 2002-03. The results: Direct-broadcast satellite penetration in cable markets that had deployed DVRs was 2.5% less than in cable systems that hadn’t rolled out DVRs.

“It’s very encouraging for cable. It looks like DVR is a very exciting product to slow the growth of satellite in those markets,” S-A director of strategic planning and business development Dave Davies said.

S-A plans to share the research this week with cable operators attending the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing’s CTAM Summit here.

S-A wouldn’t reveal which cable systems CENTRIS analyzed in its study. The company’s DVR customers include Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp., Charter Communications Inc., Adelphia Communications Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Canada’s Rogers Cable Inc.

Similar to the race to sign high-speed-data subscribers -- in which researchers have found that consumers often stick with whichever technology they buy first, be it digital subscriber line from a telephone company or a cable modem -- S-A’s research indicated that getting the first DVR into the home could be key to cable or DBS providers actively deploying them.

DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network have been quite aggressive with DVRs.

It takes DVR owners time to fine-tune the setup to record their favorite shows, which also might help to reduce the number of DVR customers dropping their providers.

“Once you get a DVR and you have 40 hours of recorded shows on that DVR, to switch to another service provider’s DVR, you’re going to have to return that box and lose all the shows you recorded,” Davies said.