Surprise: Networks Don't Like Cablevision's DVR Plans

from the didn't-see-that-one-coming dept

Cablevision detailed its plans last month to set up a network-based DVR service that would essentially work like a giant video-on-demand system. Cablevision would store everything, and users would just call up the shows they want to watch. It took a little while, but networks’ reaction was inevitable: they don’t really like it, just like they didn’t like a similar earlier effort from Time Warner and got it neutered. It’s pretty mind-blowing that like many other entertainment businesses, cable networks can’t understand that it’s in their best interest to support innovations and services that make their content more accessible and more useful to their audience. One network head says “the lawyers at all of our companies are looking at it and trying to figure out a strategy”. But instead of having lawyers lead the company and figure out ways to stymie viewers, why not work with the cable companies to figure out a way to benefit and thrive from the new system? Is that just too much work?

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Comments on “Surprise: Networks Don't Like Cablevision's DVR Plans”

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Bobo says:

Re: Perhaps the parites need to look at it differently

Perhaps both parties would be better served and agreeable if the recorded content could not be fast-forwarded through.

Seems like a reasonable agreement. The customer gets what they want; when they want it and the nework can still deliver the commercials it has contracted with the advertiser to. The other benefit to the network is that because the customer can’t fast forward, the cable provider can give them a viewer metric so the network can say they delivered the ads to the xxxxxx “non-realtime” viewers plus the regular “real-time” viewers.

It’s win win for everyone except the customer who wants to divert ads. In that case they can buy/lease a DVR from the cable company. I think statistics will show that people would rather endure ads than pay for content.

This dream of free media is just that. Advertisers pay the bills for the content providers. Even companies like HBO use product placement as a source of revenue (advertising). You can blame corporate greed or whatever you like. But busniesses are there to make money. And, media content providers have to see a benefit before they’ll stick their content out there. If they don’t see an ROI, they balk at it.

Wouldn’t you if you were them?

anon says:

Giving people what they want is not something that most networks have an interest in. They only want good looking numbers (Neilson ratings), which may or may not be as good of a cross section as people think, and do not look for people watching DVR at this time (at least the last I heard).

They like their comfortable place and don’t want to move from it. What they don’t realize is that with the advent of DVR, they don’t really have to compete with each other anymore. They don’t know how to function in a market where they aren’t trying to sink other networks.

jason says:

Re: Annnnd...

Well I am sure many of use would want it. I would have used it last week when my DVR failed to record Smallville because of some stupid glitch. Now who knows when I will be able to see that episode again. Oh and I wanted have to have yet another large hot box in my entertainment center? Ohh and wait another thing it would work on any tv. Seems you have failed to realize how smart this is.

Jon says:


I agree with the others. What downfall would this really bring to networks? This will just make a more legit and easy to use system for people. Anyone can hook a good tv-tuner card up to their pc and record. DVRs you can time so you don’t forget. Or the people who download TV episodes from the internet. Hell, my mother still uses a vcr for recording. With all these options of being able to record and not have to watch when the program is aired…what difference does this have? None. Networks are just worried about their ratings and advertisements. Personally there have been many times I have missed a show recording because I wasn’t aware of the time it was on. They just need to get off their high-horse and figure out a way to make it benefit them in the process, not be lazy and just say no to innovation.

ted says:

Speaking of Nealson...

If they are really so concerned about getting correct ratings, why dont they give everyone a free dvr with the stipulation that what you watch will be noted. I’d sign up for that. i dont care if the man knows i watch an obscene amount of stargate.

I think the numbers would be disturbing to all the Big Bad Networks. No more baised Nealson’s to make there shows look good. And maybe, just maybe for once in our lifetime the good shows wouldn’t get cancelled.

anonymous Coward says:

Only thing I can think of is like for instance a movie comes out, and the advertising company says they will purchase spots for the movie. Well word gets out that the movie is crap so the advertisers lose their viewers. No viewers want the video-on-demand for that movie. So next time a movie comes out, the advertisers have word that the movie is bad. They are not so keen to put money on the table for the advertising this time, so the cable companies end up pulling the movie before it even airs. Thus a revolving door is created for lots of movies and shows. *shrugs*

Watcher (user link) says:

Forces of Control

The “Networks” had better learn to adapt quick. I listened to a recent talk by the CEO of Netflix who had lent some insight into his predictions for the future of broadcast media.

He characterized the state of broadcast media as the forces of control vs. the forces of freedom.

Our current method of consumption is via the forces of control. Networks decide what we’ll see and when we’ll see it.

The public demands the forces of freedom. The ability to view what we want, when we want. And entrepeneurs thrive on delivering solutions that feed the demand of the consumer. We see the forces of freedom slowly starting to trickle into the main-stream, with online video-on-demand, and the baby steps of the NetFlix model.

Cisco Systems has made an entry into the home appliance arena recently, and we’re starting to see, albeit slow and lumbering, the gap closing between internet and television.

When these two mediums converge, the forces of freedom style consumption of broadcast media will find rapid growth in the consumer section. That penetration will have a snowball effect on consumer choice, having seen the forces of freedom style delivery mechanism, and forever jettisoning any notion of the barbaric, forces of control model.

When this happens, previously depended on methods of advertising will also shift. Either you’re savvy enough to adapt as a broadcast company (who survives through the sales of advertising slots), or you fade into the foggy distance of our memories.


Denny Love says:

Me Too

I have a TiVo and I record every new episode of various shows on TV. I cant live without it! I will never go back to plain old TV. Ontop of that, I rarely watch TV shows when they are scheduled to air. I just get busy or have something I need to do. This would be a huge success for the networks if they weren’t such idiots. I’m not going to revolve my time around my TV show… my TV show needs to revolve around my time! – thank you Tivo

Joe says:

It’s just as well. The cable co’s usually offer these services at a largely inflated price. The standard consumer would likely spend far less by making their own solution. You can build a DVR out of an old computer with a little work. The end result won’t cost you any monthly fees and will do what you want it to do. It can also double as a nice video/music server for when the shows you want to see aren’t recorded yet.

Windows XP Media Center PCs aren’t extremely expensive, and there are plenty of toher alternatives as well. I personally like BeyondTV which offers 1-button commercial skipping and runs really well on my machine with a TV card. If you don’t feel like spending anything on software, there’s always MythTV and one of the many Linux distros.

But, more on topic, it does seem odd that the networks object to this when there are so many other copanies offering it. Seems that are cutting the cable co’s throats and stopping them from profitting on what is clearly becoming the future of watching TV. While I feel no sympathy for the evil cable co’s and they monopoly, I do think the networks are being dumb about all this.

calidan says:

Re: Re:

Even with Media Center PCs you still need a box to get digital cable. Until they allow CableCARDs to be used in computers this will always be a problem. Personnally, I think cable companies DVR and cable boxes are crap. You should be able to choose what brand of a DVR you want and still get all the channels that are offered.

Bobo says:

Re: Re: Media Center Cheaper, are you sure?

You guys are serious that you think building a Media Center PC and buying all the cards and doing all the configuarion is less painful than paying $7.95 per month for a DVR? Which is just shy of $100 per year?

Do the math my friends.

An OEM copy of media center is about that much on eBay. A TV card is probably gonna be another $50. And if you don’t have old eqipument, even a POC PC from Tiger is $299. Plus labor building it … So now I am $300 – $700 in the hole and if something breaks I have to buy the replacement parts after 90 days in most cases. And, really how long is that low-end PC gonna last 2-3 years? That cheapo or old HDD will probably be done in the first year.

By leasing the DVR, I am buying peice of mind. The device and it’s components are the Cable Co’s problem. Unless I am blatently negligent and damge the device. Plus. it fit’s nicely in my entertainment center.

Oh and here’s a deal I found on Tivo. Basic TiVo Package, 80-hr Series2? DVR w/3-year commitment ($16.95/mo) .. PS that’s if you make a 3-year commitment… THAT’S OVER $200 PER YEAR!

It appears that if you have a box and want the service, it’s $12.95 if you do a minimium 1 year contract. Still thats more the $150 per year?

I don’t see how my cable company is screwing me.

I do however agree with Calidan that picking from one or two models the cable company leases sucks.

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