Comcast and TWC bring cloud DVR to the living room

BY Allconnect | Mon Oct 27, 2014
Comcast and TWC bring cloud DVR to the living room

Cloud DVR is quickly becoming the next "must-have" device for early adopters. The speedy collapse of Aereo left U.S. consumers without a way to access a fully-featured cloud DVR network, but the days of waiting are over. Comcast recently launched its own cloud DVR service for its customers, and Times Warner Cable is following suit with a limited roll-out in two cities across the United States. Given the pending merger between Comcast and TWC, it is expected that the two company's parallel cloud DVR offerings will complement one another. Regardless, the two services give TV viewers a glimpse of what the cable companies are doing to keep their customers from cutting the cord.

TWC Maxx
Los Angeles and New York City TWC customers will soon have access to fully functional cloud DVR, according to Multichannel News. The two cities will serve as pilot locations for the cable provider's TWC Maxx. Customers using the cloud DVR service will be able to watch and pause recorded shows on up to four televisions in a single home. The service comes with 1 Terabyte of storage, more than enough to store 150 hours of high-definition video. TWC Maxx also includes multiple tuners, allowing users to watch or record up to six shows at once. TWC customers utilizing the provider's last DVR product will be able to grandfather over the new service without having to pay an additional fee.

On the technology side, TWC will be putting Arris DCX 3600 model DVR's in customer homes, according to Multichannel News. The company will employ a cloud-based interface and archive system to deliver streaming content to customer devices. At this time the service will retail for $15.99 per month for a single room. Families can also equip their entire home with the service for just $19.99 each month.

X1 cloud DVR
Comcast had already outfitted half of its customer base with cloud DVR services, launching its X1 DVR service in late September. Following pilot periods in cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston, most of the country's Comcast customers now has access to the DVR service, according to Variety. Currently, Comcast refuses to provide exact numbers on the adoption rate of the cloud DVR service. Analysts estimate that the service began its upgrade process converting 20,000-30,000 customers each day. The cable provider is now bundling X1 with its triple and double-play bundles as well.

The X1 cloud DVR offers four tuners and 500 gigabytes of storage, and allows for streaming to multiple devices. However, legal pressures have lead Comcast to restrict DVR playback on mobile devices to one device at a time. This strategy will help keep the company's service out of the very legal grey zone that ultimately lead to the death of Aereo. Comcast's device and service currently operates a bit differently from the TWC Maxx service, and it will be interesting to see how the companies resolve this performance disparity if the two companies become one.

Cloud DVR also represents a major move by Internet and cable providers to remain competitive in the twilight of the cable era. Traditional providers are sure to dominate the market share of television viewers for several more decades, but the shift from the living room screen to the Internet of Things is already well on its way. Thankfully, this shift in technology provides an opportunity for consumers to lock in low prices for next generation media. A quick call by Times Warner Cable or Comcast customers to their provider could put cloud DVR in their living rooms by the end of the week.

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