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DVR How Many Shows at a Time? One-Upmanship Dials It Up to 12

When it comes to DVR tuners and storage, the pay TV industry continues to engage in one-upsmanship reminiscent of the battle disposable razor companies waged as they pushed out products equipped with an increasing number of blades.

The DVR tuner is now the pay TV marketing equivalent to the shaving blade. Verizon Communications is now pushing its video efforts to the “Quantum” level with the launch of a whole-home setup, centered on a new Arrismade Verizon Media Server that can record 12 shows at once alongside 2 Terabytes of storage — enough to record about 200 hours of high-definition video.

How Verizon is hitting those numbers with its new FiOS Quantum TV Premium offering is somewhat of a kluge. Customers will need to install two VMS devices, with each supplying six tuners and 1 TB of storage.

Using the home’s high-speed coax network, those devices can then be paired with smaller HD client boxes that can set and access recordings and handle “trick-play” functions that let users pause, rewind and fast-forward through DVR-recorded video over the home network. It sounds like quite the setup.

For customers who don’t need a DVR of such prolific proportions, the FiOS Quantum TV Enhanced tier relies on just one VMS.

Getting these new, fancy features won’t be free, with FiOS Quantum TV customers subject to a one-time upgrade fee of $24.99. The Enhanced tier costs $22 per month, while Premium runs $32 per month. Those monthly fees rise based on the number of client boxes a customer wants (Verizon’s new system offers integrated control of up to 10 TVs).

Verizon’s old setπup was limited to 50 hours of HD storage and live TV control of just one TV. But the sheer magnitude of the new offering seems an obvious attempt to stay a step ahead of FiOS rivals and to add a new marketing angle to the mix.

For example, Verizon’s new Premium-level package will let the telco edge past Cablevision Systems’ cloud-based Multi-Room DVR product, which today can record 10 shows at once.

Dish Network’s Hopper whole-home DVR with the new Super Joey sidecar device can record up to eight shows at once.

The best DVRs from DirecTV and Comcast can record up to five shows at once.

As more DVRs get tucked into the cloud and the tuners essentially become virtualized, there’s no telling how many shows the DVRs of the future will be able to record simultaneously. Perhaps they’ll be made to record everything on TV, once recording rights loosen up further.

But even now, really, who needs to record 12 shows at once? It seems like overkill for a home with one or two people, but maybe it’s becoming an occasional requirement for homes with large families.

To help justify its reasoning, Verizon proffered survey data from 1,005 consumers in March that found having access to more storage and more tuners were two of the top four things users wanted from DVRs .

Still, given the shift to cloudbased storage and the proliferation of video-on-demand and TV Everywhere rights, the future of today’s local DVR storage model seems somewhat in doubt. Even TiVo, the DVR pioneer itself, is developing a cloud-based version. And the launch of FiOS Quantum TV happened to coincide with the telco’s weeklong “Free On Demand Marathon,” offering access to more than 2,300 movies and 90 full TV seasons.

The King Is Still In the Building

Golf Channel is looking for a 19th-hole audience for its biggest original programming effort to date, Arnie, a three-part look at the life and impact of the network’s co-founder and the PGA’s self-acknowledged “king,” Arnold Palmer.

The special will air over three consecutive nights, beginning Sunday, April 13, after the closing round of The Masters, a tournament Palmer won four times.

Palmer is widely credited with TV golf’s rise in popularity, given his matinee-idol good looks and take-no-prisoners style, combined with a backstory out of the movies: greenskeeper’s son becomes golf’s best player.

The Wire wrangled its own audience with “Mr. Palmer,” albeit on a call in a clutch of reporters.

We asked what his ideal foursome would be if he could play with any of the great golfers past or present, or just people he wanted to spoil a good walk with. We got at least a couple of names on the card, with the fourth slot having to rotate among a laundry list of candidates.

President Eisenhower, a friend and golfing partner of Palmer’s, was his first choice. “He was a great guy, so I would have to include him in my group,” Palmer said.

He called golf legend Walter Hagen “another man that I would have liked to spend more time with than I did.”

“If you ever had a chance to know Walter Hagen, you could get the sense of humor and the ‘intrigue’ that was involved in his personality,” Palmer related. “Imagine even today, in the atmosphere that we play golf in, can you imagine riding up to the clubhouse at St. Andrews in a limousine and a tuxedo on to go play golf? That is the kind of people who made the game of golf so great, and Hagen was one of them.”

But then the floodgates opened with names like Nelson and Hogan and Snead and Nicklaus and Player and more spilling out. Ones he called great people “who have contributed to the integrity of the game of golf.”

None more so than Mr. Palmer, adds The Wire, hitching up our plus-fours and heading to the couch to watch a screener of the show. 

— John Eggerton