According to a recent study, customers are starting to shift from standard definition digital video recorders (DVRs) to high definition DVRs, particularly in the United States. IMS Research estimated that HD DVRS made up 29 percent of the total worldwide shipments in 2005, and the Austin, Texas-based research company projects that number to increase to 54 percent by 2010.  In 2005, U.S shipments of HD DVRs were estimated to account for 36 percent of all DVRS shipments. “While the transition from SD DVRS to HD DVRs will be most apparent in the U.S., it will likely occur in other regions as well,” IMS analyst Jack Mayo said in a press release. “For example, European users have been more likely to purchase a SD DVR. However, as operator deployments increase and HD services become more prevalent, this will begin to change.” Factors driving the switch to HD DVRs include a smooth transition from regular programming to HDTV without future truck rolls and without subscribers being required to exchange their current set-top boxes on their own. Since providing additional services to existing customers is less costly than bringing in new customers, the report said that operators are looking ahead to increasing ARPU from each household with HD DVRs. Telcos, DBS also glom onto DVRs According to another research group, iSuppli, cable DVR subscribers in the United States doubled from 1.28 million in 2004 to 3.4 million last year, but cable is certainly not the only industry to arm itself with DVRs. Satellite providers have long had DVRs in their corner, but DirecTV added a twist to its offering earlier this year by using a broadband connection to deliver TV programs over the Internet to a DVR-enabled satellite receiver. “It’s an interesting strategy and almost central to them (DirecTV) competing against cable,” said iSuppli analyst Mark Kirstein.  “It’s (the video quality) equivalent to TV, but a trickle format to a DVR.  It gives them the opportunity to match the cable companies on a VOD basis.” Kirstein said the video doesn’t come over the public Internet, and while it can’t do real-time streaming, it does provide the DVR functionality of searching for and then recording programs. “You can’t guarantee quality of service over the Internet, and it’s not real-time access to the content, but it allows you to anticipate what you want to watch, and when you show up, it will be there,” he said. “It’s also ironic that a consumer with a cable modem is receiving content that is being delivered by a satellite company without paying the cable company anything other than the basic (broadband) fee.” Kirstein said U.S. DVR subscribers for satellite increased from 4.4 million in 2004 to 7.8 million last year. The iSuppli report also said operators are looking to expand their footprint within consumers’ homes by deploying multi-room, or “whole-home” DVR capability.  Multi-room DVRs support distributing video programming from a centralized DVR to multiple TV sets in the home by leveraging networking technologies over coax or powerline.   “Multi-room, either over coax or power lines, is an interesting technology because it turns the gateway set-top box into a server to distribute content throughout the home,” Kirstein said.


 iSuppli expects the number of boxes with multi-room capability to expand from only a few million units last year to more than 50 million units in 2010.   


Currently, the average charge for DVR services is $5 per month, which doesn’t include the rental fee for the DVR. ISuppli forecasts that DVR subscriber revenue will pass $1 billion this year and grow beyond $2 billion annually by 2010.

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