Cablevision to deploy networked DVRs everywhere


Having won a court battle with major TV content companies, Cablevision is now ready to deploy its networked digital video recorder system throughout its cable systems. The phase-in of Remote Server-Digital Video Recorders (RS-DVRs) will begin in April.

In the company’s quarterly conference call, COO Tom Rutledge said Cablevision intends to cease buying in-home DVR boxes by the end of 2010. The company plans to soon make available a function which allows viewers to pause live programming. The deployment of the full-function RS-DVR will begin in April, with the new service then replacing the current box DVRs as the final phase of the three-step transition.

Company officials told analysts that the networked DVRs are considerably more cost-efficient for Cablevision than traditional DVRs although there will be some expense this year associated with building the infrastructure.

Cablevision reported 5% revenue growth in Q4 to $2.15 billion, as increased revenues for its telecom services, Rainbow Media and its former Madison Square Garden subsidiary (now a separate company) were offset by lower revenues at Newsday, its only newspaper property.

Cablevision’s cable systems are all located in the greater New York area, passing more than five million TV households.

RBR-TVBR observation: No other MSO has announced plans to deploy networked DVRs, but given the financial advantage claimed by Cablevision, it seems almost certain that others will follow.

In theory, broadcasters and the Hollywood studios could mount new legal challenges in federal courts outside the Second Circuit. A win for the content owners in another circuit would make it more likely that the Supreme Court would agree to take up the issue and resolve the conflicting lower court decisions. Of course, the content owners would have to win somewhere else to set up that scenario.