By Simon Trudelle, NAGRA
Broadcast-centric set-top box DVR solutions have traditionally done an excellent job delivering time-shifted video viewing. However, with the viewing landscape currently shifting so quickly, it is time for industry players to consider a different option. Between the increased complexity of these customer premises equipment (CPE) units and the growing desire to enjoy an on-demand TV experience from a variety of screens, a better solution is necessary. The emergence of cloud DVR technology provides a possible answer.
Cloud DVR makes it technically and economically viable to host content recording and playback capabilities in the network. Using the cloud frees up the set-top from having to handle complex real-time file management, simplifying that CPE's role. But perhaps the greatest benefit the technology provides is new service opportunities. These include personalization and monetization of the on-demand process. Having cloud DVR services accessible on such devices as PCs, tablets and smartphones, as well as traditional TVs, gives providers the ability to deliver features like content recommendations services on a variety of platforms.
The cloud DVR systems also offer other advanced capabilities, such as download-to-go (local storage of content on a consumer portable device) or download-to-own (same principle, with the purchase transaction) that aren't user-friendly on set-tops, as side-loading is not convenient. These options should be considered essential as providers create more attractive package options, for which users consistently express desire. Happier viewers mean greater customer loyalty and Net Promoter Scores and lower customer turnover.
Beyond those key factors, the cloud is a valuable tool in helping service providers enforce rights holders' usage rules; in particular, the cloud DVR makes it possible to allow single copy recordings and control playback by program, both in terms of time window and frequency. This ability may prove vital in the near future as legal experts expect a shift in how legislatures and courts approach rights holders. As more protection goes to content creators, providers can expect stricter requirements to ensure single copy recordings occur.
That said, it's important to note that while a cloud DVR solution is useful in reducing CPE costs by eliminating storage hardware from the set-top, there are still expenditures that must be considered. The greatest outlay for the cloud DVR is the content delivery network (CDN) infrastructure. This is a necessary expense in order to ensure users can watch recorded content on the screen of their choice anywhere they choose. In addition, the new DVR system will still need network storage. That price tag will vary depending on both the recorded video content's quality and resolution and the number of channels recorded. The CDN infrastructure, whether owned or leased, will have to support peak viewing, which typically occurs in either the evening or during the broadcast of high-profile live events. Those periods will mean higher video delivery volumes, which will equate to greater total delivery costs. The positive flipside is that on-demand addressable advertising at playback time can be implemented to generate revenues to cover these delivery costs.
As the appetite for on-demand video content and next generation services continues to grow, delivering great TV content anywhere, anytime and on all screens becomes more critical. Cloud DVR technology addresses these challenges by making personalized, on-demand online and offline TV content consumption a standard feature of a next generation TV delivery solution. The solution is designed to scale to bring the best TV experience on all IP-connected devices, making TV simpler and better on all screens.
Simon Trudelle is a senior product marketing director at NAGRA.