How much energy would it cost to move all of our digital video recording into the cloud? If the cable companies all followed Cablevision’s path, it would require an estimated 300 megawatts of power, or about one third the output of a nuclear power plant.
At an industry event presented by the Society for Cable and Technology Engineers (SCTE), Comcast’s Mark Coblitz today highlighted one unintended consequence of the Remote Storage DVR (RS-DVR) system Cablevision uses for its cloud-based video recording service. Because of legal rights issues, the MSO has to create and store a unique copy of every program recorded in the cloud by its subscribers. According to Coblitz, if the industry did the same thing as a substitute for roughly 30 million home-based DVRs, energy waste would go through the roof. In contrast to the 300 megawatt number Coblitz cited, a network DVR system keeping just one copy of up to two million different programs would require only about five megawatts of power in total.
The cable industry is examining power consumption issues a lot more closely these days. It’s not so much a matter of environmental responsibility, as it is the financial bottom line. If more operators start to migrate toward network-based recording, you can bet they’ll also begin to exert serious pressure in court rooms and board rooms to move away from the RS-DVR model. True nDVR would be a lot more efficient and environmentally sustainable. More importantly for MSOs, it would be a lot less expensive.