Market Insight

US MSOs to deploy whole home PVRs

April 22, 2009

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Time Warner Cable (TWC), Cox Communications, and Bright House Networks will offer whole home Personal Video Recorders (hPVRs) to subscribers. An hPVR system allows content on a master PVR set-top box (STB) to be accessed by one or more slave, non-PVR STBs in other locations in the home. TWC will deploy systems from Motorola and Cisco while Cox and Bright House will rely on Cisco's solution.

Both Cisco and Motorola's hPVR products are built around Tru2way-enabled DLNA compliant STBs that use the Multimedia over Coaxial Alliance (MoCA) networking standard to move content around the home over coaxial cabling.

US MSOs are not the first to market next generation PVR technology. IPTV operators Verizon and AT&T have been offering whole home services to customers since 2006 and 2008 respectively. In addition, US MSO Cablevision is planning to launch a network PVR (nPVR), eliminating the need for STB-based PVRs by allowing subscribers to recorded content to servers housed in its network hubs.

The TWC, Cox and Bright House move to hPVR signals, at least in the short term, that not all MSOs wish to follow Cablevision's nPVR model. This should reassure STB vendors looking to protect high-value cable PVR shipments to the US, forecast to be worth a total of Eur 4.6bn over the next five years. While the use of hPVRs limits PVR STBs to one per household, technical innovation increases these STBs' prices, mitigating potential revenue losses associated with fewer PVR per household shipments.

The features facilitated by hPVRs, such as pausing content in one room and resuming playback from another, coupled with analogue switch-off, will increase consumer demand for slave viewing devices as secondary sets will no longer be able to rely on analogue terrestrial content. Non-PVR STB shipments will be worth Eur 2.3bn over the 2009-2013 period. Since hPVR systems are Tru2way and DLNA-compliant, slave devices do not have to be operator supplied STBs and could be iDTVs, PCs or games consoles.

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