Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cablevision Hits a Wall with NPVR

Cablevision, the cable provider in the New York suburbs, took an aggressive approach to Network PVR (NPVR) services that ran into strong resistance from the content industry. NPVR is a service where the service provider (Cablevision) records broadcast TV channels and provides the ability to replay specific programs at a later time.

Cablevision felt that it had the right to do this, but the networks disagreed. They sued and Cablevision lost. It is now appealing that decision.

There is an interesting summary of the current situation on LightReading at

This argument is particularly important for IPTV providers. The IPTV networks are better suited than cable networks to support NPVR and other on demand services. NPVR can give the telcos a significant advantage over the cable companies.

It has been clear for a long time that the networks had deep reservations about NPVR services. Cablevisions actions have polarized the issue and made an evolution to a full NPVR service very difficult to achieve in the U.S.

FastWeb in Italy has been successful with a slower approach. It started with a service that emulated a home based PVR in that the viewer had to declare in advance that he or she wanted to record a program. FastWeb would record that program and allow only that viewer and any other viewers that requested that the program be recorded to view it later. This was no worse that if the viewer owned a Tivo, so the broadcasters in Italy accepted it.

Last year FastWeb took the next step and deployed an NPVR service that provides access to broadcast programs from the previous three days for any viewer, whether or not he or she requested it in advance.

If Cablevision's suit is not successful, a similar step by step process will have to occur in the U.S. as well.

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