While Time Warner Cable has worked to earn programmers’ trust with its Start Over solution, Cablevision is duking it out in court with some of those same content providers over its network DVR solution. Meanwhile, time-shifted TV is less contentious over in Europe because there aren’t the same concerns between the content owners and providers.

"The interest in time-shifted TV is a global phenomenon," said Sean Welch, Motorola‘s director of marketing and product management, on demand solutions, during a Webcast on time-shifted TV earlier this month. "We’re involved in a number of trails in Europe and Asia where nDVR content rights issues tend to be a little more relaxed."

Vidya Nath, a senior research analyst with Frost & Sullivan, gives a slight edge to Europe and Asia on nDVR deployments.

"The adoption of NPVR has been more encouraging in Europe and Asia Pacific by service providers such as Fastweb, Italy, and Yahoo!BB, Japan," Nath said via email. "For the next 24-36 months, growth in this market is going to be largely driven by telco and IPTV services in these regions.

"North America, with its fledgling telco services and large cable incumbents, is restricted by content owners and aggregators. But several service operators have equipped themselves with infrastructure to provide the service, and it is expected that it will be deployed as a value added service to VOD. The nPVR has several advantages such as cost and maintenance, but it is essentially a great way to offer time shifting as a feature to most of the subscribers." Network DVR a good tool for gaining subscribers While Verizon hasn’t said what its nDVR plans are, its fiber, which is a hybrid approach, involving quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) modulators for broadcast delivery and Internet protocol (IP) for on-demand programming, would be able to handle time-shifted TV.

"For telcos, nPVR is a great value addition to attract new subscribers," Nath said. "In fact, both cable companies and telcos are equipped to provide nPVR. Some of them have a highly scalable VOD infrastructure, and they can leverage it to provide nPVR to subscribers. Considering basic time-shifting abilities, the nPVR eliminates the need for a set-top box unit with a hard drive and hence the cost and hassles associated with installing such units. However, due to the present tussle with content rights issues, service operators are not aggressive about deploying the application."

Nath said that DVR boxes have been a great tool for cable operators to increase their digital penetration, and while nDVR could save on the cost of deploying DVRs, she doesn’t think a nDVR solution is the only way to go.

"NPVR cannot work as a complete substitute for the retail or set-top box DVR," Nath said. "While on one hand, service operators are challenged by creating various nPVR models that will give consumers a taste of time shifting, without compromising on content rights, they are also attempting to create avenues to profit from this application." For more on the time-shifting Webinar sponsored by Motorola and hosted by Communications Technology, click here. (Registration is required.) – Mike Robuck

The Daily

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