DVR Ruling Boosts US Cable Companies

6 August 2008
NEW YORK: A US appeals court this week overruled a legal decision that bans cable operators from offering 'remote storage' DVRs that enable viewers to record TV shows on a central system rather than a set-top box.

The higher court's ruling has prompted analysts to spreculate that such devices could now become more commonplace.

An earlier judgement blocked New York-based cable network Cablevision from offering such a “network DVR” system after the Cartoon Network and CNN argued it would violate copyright by allowing the unauthorised reproduction and public broadcast of their programs.

The case was originally heard two years ago, but the broadcasters' argument was rejected in a hearing in the US Court of Appeals for New York on Monday.

Tom Rutledge, Cablevision's chief operations officer, said: “This is a tremendous victory for consumers, which will allow us to make DVRs available to many more people, faster and less expensively than would otherwise be possible.”

Craig Moffett of Bernstein Research opined that the number of cable households using set-top boxes could now leap from 20% to 60% “in short order”.

As well as boosting the production of cheaper DVR hardware, he posits that the remote storage facility will give cable companies an advantage over satellite competitors, which can't offer such an option. 

Some analysts argue that the ruling could help cable firms offset the current slowdown in advertising revenues, though others warned that the "ad-skipping" capability offered by DVRs could raise fresh concerns among advertisers.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff
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