Supreme Court washes hands of Cablevision’s nDVR plans

Mon, 06/29/2009 - 8:35am
Mike Robuck

Today, the Supreme Court declined to hear arguments against Cablevision’s remote-storage DVR offering that would allow subscribers to access and view stored content on the cable operator’s network instead of through DVRs in their homes.

The Supreme Court declined to hear arguments from Hollywood studios and television networks in regard to their opposition to Cablevision’s network-based digital video recorder (nDVR) service, according to published reports.

The studios and networks have long argued that Cablevision’s remote-storage DVR plans violate federal copyright laws. There have also been concerns by advertisers that the service would allow Cablevision subscribers to skip over ads.

“This is a tremendous victory, and it opens up the possibility of offering a DVR experience to all of our digital cable customers,” Cablevision said in its statement. “At the same time, we are mindful of the potential implications for ad skipping and the concerns this has raised in the programming community. We believe there are ways to take this victory and work with programmers to give our customers what they want – full DVR functionality through existing digital set-top boxes – and at the same time deliver real benefits to advertisers. This landmark case gives the cable industry, and Cablevision in particular, the opportunity to do something that our satellite competitors cannot do. 

“We expect to begin deploying the first application of this new technology, the ability to pause live television when the phone rings, as a value-added benefit to our customers later this summer.”

In 2007, a New York federal trial judge sided with the studios and broadcasters, but last year the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in New York found that Cablevision’s nDVR service wouldn’t infringe on the copyrights of the video content owners if it was deployed.

Film studios and TV networks that have sued to block Cablevision’s nDVR service include Time Warner Inc., Walt Disney Co. and CBS Corp. The video content owners won a preliminary round in a federal court before losing in the appeals court.

The service, which was first proposed by Cablevision in 2006, would allow subscribers to view video content that is stored on the network instead of a personal DVR. The subscribers would be able to playback the nDVR video content whenever they wished.

Storing content on the network would allow cable operators to save money on set-top box truck rolls and the purchase of more costly set-top boxes with DVRs.

The concept of nDVR isn’t new. Time Warner Cable first looked at deploying an nDVR service, which it called MystroTV, in 2003. Instead of going with a full version of network-based DVR, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have used elements of the Mystro technology for Start Over and Look Back.

More Broadband Direct 06/29/09:
•  FCC reverses course in SDV rulings against Cox, TWC
•  Supreme Court washes hands of Cablevision's nDVR plans
•  Midcontinent joins DOCSIS 3.0 party
•  Atlantic Broadband does Web VOD with Clearleap
•  Lightpath knocks out competition at Bronx SMB
•  Juniper products aim at converged services
•  Opinion: Apple sets lasting standard in wireless
•  Regulators extend review of Oracle's Sun takeover
•  Broadband Briefs for 06/29/09



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