Cablevision has emerged victorious from its latest day in court. If it chooses, Cablevision now has the green light to start introducing Network DVR services. A court of appeals ruled yesterday that Network DVR does not violate copyright law, overturning a decision from March 2007 that pronounced the technology illegal.
The ruling should not be surprising. Despite serious opposition from the content moguls, new services have been eroding the barrier that was originally built up against Network DVR technology. Time Warner Cable started the momentum with the introduction of Start Over and Look Back, Cox and ABC introduced a similar VOD service to make primetime programming available any time, and outside the US operators have launched full-service Network DVR. The increasing adoption of traditional digital video recording and video-on-demand have also made Network DVR virtually inevitable. After all, what’s the practical difference if content is stored at home or on a service provider’s network?
The continuing evolution of living-room TV is fascinating from a number of technology angles. For example, we’re seeing more and more of a load placed on operator networks. The operators love the revenue opportunities of advanced services, but they’re less thrilled about the network upgrades required to make those services sustainable. With Network DVR and VOD we’re also looking at a living-room analog to cloud computing. What if the cloud goes offline? What service expectations should consumers have? Should there be TV SLAs?
We’re going to see a lot play out in the living room in the next few years. DVR and VOD services will continue to blend. Network DVR is a start.