sbombay writes "I just came back from Broadband Plus (formerly the Western Cable Show) and was disappointed to find that cable companies despise PVRs. In his keynote speech, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said that the PVR amounts to 'the Napster of the future.' Cable World has a story about the speech and quotes from other cable execs bashing the PVR. The cable industry's opposition to the PVR boils down to two things -- PVRs help satellite companies (Dish and DirecTV) provide services like Video On Demand (VOD) and a PVR in a cable home cuts into VOD revenue. Any of the sessions at the show that touched the topic of PVRs were an opportunity for the cable industry to slam the PVR. The strongest attack came from Gary Lauder, a venture capitalist who has funded many cable related companies. During his 15-minute presentation, Lauder slammed his Replay box, 'it's too hot,' 'my wife doesn't know how to use it,' and he even tried to fry an egg on his PVR. He also openly called on the cable companies and Hollywood to sue the PVR companies for copyright infringement. If you love your PVR, the cable industry is not your friend." Update: 12/09 18:33 GMT by T : Gary Lauder wrote to say that this account misquotes and misinterprets his speech on certain points. Read below for his reaction.Gary Lauder writes: "I have 3 PVR's and love the functionality. My wife knows how to use it. The misquotation is that she did not know how to reboot it when it locked up. This was a piece of data in support of the following position:
My position that I expressed in my speech and that was inaccurately portrayed: PVR functionality should be provisioned from the headend for the following reasons (which ultimately will benefit consumers):
VOD servers cost much less
- If video servers @ $350/stream (Soon Component cost declining 40%/year
- @ 10% simultaneous use, costs $35/sub.
- PVRs cost >10X more
- When simultaneous use = 50%, server costs will have declined >5X
- Disk noise wakes my wife
- Replay box hot enough to fry an egg -- Is that a feature?
- Disk size limitations mean obsolescence, esp. with HDTV
- Available on every set-top in house Average of 1.7 PVRs/PVR household
- No pro-activity/anticipation required
- Records multiple concurrent shows
- NW storage could always have max. res.
- Uses existing deployed base
- Moving parts break more often
- Box complexity means more crashes & customer support costs
My basic thesis is that PVRs + Satellite will eat cable's lunch, and since it's unambiguous that cable needs to get the copyright clearances to offer programming from the head-end, they should start now. It is the case that I suggested that if a Supreme Court case was brought on the legality of each feature of PVRs were brought, some would lose. I also suggested an alternative business model to make everybody happy to avoid the all-or-nothing result that has been occurring in the RIAA vs. Napster wars.
I suggested that consumers pay 1 cent per commercial skipped (which is about the same as what advertisers pay). That would be equivalent to $10/thousand commercials skipped. I think that's reasonable. I also suggested that targeted advertising could be a win-win for all involved by delivering ads in areas that are of greater interest to the viewer so that there would be less incentive to skip and fewer ads would have to be delivered due to the higher prices paid for the targeted group. I also predicted that this dynamic combined with competition between satellite and cable would ultimately make both services free."