At IBC 2015 I had many conversations with vendors providing cloud DVR solutions. Along with the discussion about the technology, many also told me why cloud DVR was not only a replacement for the DVR, but also better. Here are the top four reasons I heard, including a couple that might surprise you.
Avoids a natural point of churn
When the hard disk in a home DVR recorder fails, and they all eventually do, the consumer losses all their recordings. This can be a traumatic event as most DVR hard disks run close to full. With no stored content to keep them from changing provider, many consumers naturally take this as an opportunity to shop around for a better pay TV deal.
Even though cloud DVR storage fails, consumer recordings are backed up and protected. No loss of recordings, no natural point of churn!
Easy to upgrade
Once a consumer gets a DVR the basic specifications of the box are set in stone. So, if it doesn’t support HD, it never will. In the past, the basics of television have changed infrequently, but that is not true today. DVRs are increasingly sophisticated app platforms. Operators regularly include new features like OTT services, apps and games. Eventually, the DVR processor just can’t keep up with it all.
Using Cloud DVR means an operator can easily update its features and capabilities. And with Ultra HD, HDR (high dynamic range), and the controversal HEVC (high efficiency video codec) just around the corner, moving DVR to the cloud could be a solid hedge against anything the future may hold.
Enables new marketing models
The impact of DVR functionality is one of the hardest to explain to someone that doesn’t have it. Even seeing it in someone else’s home doesn’t come close to explaining the impact it will likely have on their lives. With DVR in the cloud, however, an operator can offer a free months trial of the functionality, and allow their customer to really live with the service. And since the content is already stored in the network, it’s much easier to offer the same functionality and convenience from all a consumer’s devices.
New services like Sling TV even build DVR functions in for no extra charge. On many of the channels available through Sling TV users can go backwards up to seven days in the guide to catch a show they might have missed.
Lower storage costs? Perhaps.
The promise of saving on storage has always been an elusive one for cloud DVR. In regions where content licensing rules are not as strict, operators running cloud DVR solutions can store a single copy of each show and stream from it to every person that recorded the show. This obviously saves a lot on storage costs, as there are no longer thousands of copies of the same show to store.
In regions where operators must keep an individual copy of a show, they might end up actually needing more storage than a physical DVR. Since the content is stored in the cloud, multiple video profiles of each show must be created so it can be streamed to any of consumers devices. At IBC, however, Envivio told me they had a solution for that problem. Its cloud DVR solution can create all the video profiles on-the-fly from a single master copy of the show.
Why it matters
Saving the cost of a truck role and a DVR box are just part of the reason an operator should consider moving to a cloud DVR architecture.
The flexibility of a cloud implementations open up the possibility of reducing churn, boosting adoption, enabling new marketing models, and, maybe, saving money on storage costs.