Rutledge Offers New DVR Details

New York—Cablevision Systems chief operating officer Tom Rutledge offered some more detail regarding the company’s long-awaited network digital video recorder product, telling an audience at an industry conference here that the technology could be used as enhancements for other products as well.

Earlier this year, Cablevision won a federal law suit that allowed it to move forward with its Remote Storage-DVR product, which would allow the cable operator to place DVR-like functionality at the headend.

Cablevision, which is testing the service on its Long Island campus currently, has said that it expects to begin rolling out the service sometime next year.

At the UBS Global Media and Communications conference Monday, Rutledge said that the proposed rollout for the RS-DVR is on track, barring any litigation delays. The group of programmers that originally sued (and failed) to block the RS-DVR have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. 

The court is expected to decide whether it will hear the appeal in January.

Rutledge said that in addition to the more elegant nature of the RS-DVR, it is also less costly for the operator. He estimated that an operator could save as much as $100 per installation with the RS-DVR by purchasing storage in bulk as opposed to a DVR set-top box. Rutledge added that the company could also create new products that are less than full RS-DVR technology. One such product could be paired with its Caller-ID on the TV service, allowing every digital phone subscriber to pause live TV to answer a call.

“At its core, if you just look at it as a DVR replacement, it’s cheaper, it’s easier, it’s more consumer friendly, it’s easier to sell, there’s no friction in the marketplace in selling it, it costs less and it’s a good deal,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge said the company has not yet felt any adverse effects from the sluggish economy, but added that it may have to do with the way the company packages its products.

“We try to create real value in packaging, in the way we put our video products together, lots of services in each package so the value proposition of downgrading is very low,” Rutledge said. “If the customer is trying to make economic decision about how to lower there total spend, where will they go? Ancillary video services? I think in some markets they might. Our strategy is to make that a difficult decision.”

And so far it has worked. Cablevision has consistently outperformed its peers in practically every metric. And despite having the deepest penetration in digital (more than 90%), high-speed data (52%) and digital phone (nearly 40%) it is still the fastest-growing MSO in the country.