Network DVR’s May be on the Way

A recent court ruling allows content providers permission to store TV content on central servers making it possible for providers to offer network DVR’s. The difference between a network DVR and current DVR’s is that customers would record their shows to space allocated for them on a central server rather than on the internal hard drive inside of a DVR. Of course this ruling will be appealed by the content producers as they fight over who gets the money. The content producers are claiming copyright infringement because this would be an unauthorized rebroadcast of content and to remedy the matter the content providers should pay additional royalties. Here’s a link to the article that summarizes the ruling and the possible implications.

I also agree that there are benefits for the TV viewing customers because this is essentially on-demand TV and the for the advertisers because they can insert current and more relevant commercials for each viewer at the time of viewing. As for skipping, I still maintain if commercials are fresh, compelling, and relevant to the viewers, then viewers will watch them. There’s no reason to bribe or extort viewers into watching commercials. The question, though, becomes, who gets the ad revenue. It would seem that in a scheme like this, the content producers would get the $$$ from the live viewing and the content providers would get the money from the time shifted viewing. Also keep in mind that that the content provider can control the stream by simply not including fast forward capabilities in the DVR software. Of course this challenges advertisers to split their money between to the two opportunities. It’s tough to say which is better for them. As for the content producers, I imagine if this ruling sticks, this will move them more in the direction of inserting more product placements into the actual shows and emphasizing the commercial breaks less.

The only thing that kinda puts a damper on this is how the bandwidth will be handled. My feeling is that it would be better for the content provider to record all of the shows, or maybe the most popular (if long tail is skinny and the head is fat), once and store them and then let customers download the shows via BitTorrent or some other file sharing protocol to a small HD on their DVR to watch. Now what about saving years and years of TV shows? Hmm … I suppose that the content providers wouldn’t want to do that … so perhaps could there could be one central location for all of that? Hmm … I guess that’s something that will be wrangled over in the future. Perhaps each studio will have their own on-demand vaults to server files from for a fee.

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