Cable Operators

Execs Debate VOD, DVRs

1/16/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

Las Vegas— The merits of offering programming from video-on-demand servers located at the headend or through digital video recorders located in subscriber homes was a hot topic on a Consumer Electronics Show panel comprised of cable operators and technology vendors.

Motorola Broadband Communications Sector president Dan Moloney said that DVRs and VOD are complementary, while Insight Communications Co. CEO Michael Willner told audience members at the Jan. 7 session that the latter is a platform that helps cable operators differentiate themselves from the DBS competition.

Cox Communications Inc. chief operating officer Patrick Esser said the MSO, which recently went private, added 30,000 DVR subscribers in December.

Other executives said DVRs have proven very popular with customers. Scientific-Atlanta Inc. chief technology officer Robert McIntyre cited research which found that 92% of DVR users said “they will never give up” the service.

Starz Entertainment Group CEO Bob Clasen was bullish on the opportunities offered by both VOD and DVRs, but emphasized that a strict focus on digital-rights management is needed to protect programmers.

“Our first priority with DVRs and VOD is security,” Clasen said.

Esser also downplayed competition posed by telcos SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., which are building fiber networks to compete against cable’s core video offering.

He mocked the two RBOCs’ plans to offer new video services as “fiber to the press release.”

September