Cloud DVR: Reaching back in time for the shows you’ve missed

January 5, 2014 - 2 Comments

Some of us still remember, in the pre-DVR days, when missing an episode of your favorite show meant it was lost forever – unless you chanced upon it in reruns. Even when technology allowed us to book content for recording, whether by VCR or DVR, you had to plan beforehand what you intended to record. The next generation of TV recording technology allowed us to “pause” live viewing and resume at our leisure, thanks to a review buffer that knew to record in the background whatever we happened to be watching. But what if you could spontaneously decide to go back in time – minutes, hours or even days – and view whatever content you missed?

Cloud DVR, one of the latest offerings from Cisco Videoscape Solutions, brings the latest time-shift technology home. An extension of Videoscape Video Everywhere, Cloud DVR leverages cloud technology to store content on a scale impossible for traditional DVRs to replicate. How much content can be stored? Enough for a viewer to browse the programming grid and view any program broadcast over the previous three days.

Enabling this technology is a Content Distribution Network which continually stores broadcast content with high availability and performance. And it’s not just for traditional TV viewing. Because Cloud DVR runs on the multi-device Video Everywhere platform, recently broadcast content can be made retroactively available on any device.

Several new Cloud DVR features take advantage of this technology. Restart TV allows you to view any event from the beginning, no matter when you tuned to it. Catchup TV, a souped-up version of Restart TV, makes available the previous three days of broadcasts. A complementary product, Reverse EPG allows you to search back in time for content previously broadcast. And you can now Pause Live TV even if you don’t have a DVR, so you don’t have to worry about unexpected viewing interruptions. . Because the content is derived from the same cloud-based source, you can pause viewing on one device and resume viewing from the exact same point on a different device.

Cloud-based storage offers several additional advantages:

  • Storing more content – storage capacity is no longer limited to the disk size of your DVR.
  • Storing multiple shows broadcast simultaneously – no need to worry if your DVR is tied up with multiple recordings
  • Scheduling, managing and accessing stored content from multiple devices
  • No need for a hardware upgrade

Sound good? This solution is on its way. The biggest hurdle to implementation, however, may not be perfecting the technology, but rather the legal implications. One particularly thorny issue, particularly in US markets, is the legality of retrieving content that has already been broadcast. Under current US law, individual customers must request their own copies of a recording. As a result, VOD content can be viewed, but copy-protection arrangements severely curtail the amount of broadcast content that a viewer can legally retrieve and view. Resolution of the legal issues surrounding the viewing of recently broadcast content is shaping up as a major factor in how soon and to what extent we’ll see Cloud DVR introduced to our homes.

Link: An analyst discusses the future of Cloud DVR (posted on YouTube by Cisco):

For more information about the Cisco Cloud DVR, click here.

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  1. Some of us still remember VHS video cassette recorders. That being said, today the notion of making a personal recording or copy of any kind of digital media content seems like something from a bygone era.

    Subscription streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, will likely change the consumer expectations of video consumption models — every movie, TV show and documentary will be available on-demand, just-in-time, on any device.

    Think about it, describing a Cloud DVR is like the legacy thinking behind the term “Horseless Carriage” — it’s an obsolete metaphor for a new delivery method.

    • That’s a claim I hear a lot. Unfortunately, it not entirely true.

      From an SP perspective, the value prop for cDVR is mostly a legal one. Service providers are not always allowed to pre-record everything, store it in their libraries indefinitely and make it available right after it was aired. With cDVR, they are avoiding this problem because in the cDVR model the recording is initiated by the end users and is stored on their personal storage in the cloud, hence the SP bares no liability to the recording.

      From the user perspective – since not all content is available via VOD/OTT platforms (especially in a reasonable timing window) customers still want to be in control what they record, when they can watch it, and how long they hang on to it.

      I agree with you that at first glance it seems like we are solving tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s mindset but evidently that’s just what the market wants at this point.