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Gregg - Will TWC CFL be involved soon?


Release Date: May 6, 2002

Time Warner Cable Deploys Scientific-Atlanta's Explorer 8000 Digital Set-Top Box In Homes for Key Trials


--World's First Single Box Cable Solution for Delivery of DVR Functionality--


ATLANTA - As participants in Time Warner Cable's field trials of Scientific-Atlanta's new Explorer® 8000 set-top box pause live TV and record their favorite programming, they're also recording cable history. They're the first to experience the power of digital video recording (DVR) aboard the world's only complete home entertainment platform for cable.


The Explorer 8000 home entertainment server is designed with consumers in mind, offering exciting new, next generation TV services. Consumers will be able to pause live TV, record one channel while watching another, record two channels and playback one channel simultaneously, and enjoy picture-in-picture (PIP) on any consumer television set. The Explorer 8000 home entertainment server features an 80-gigabyte hard drive, capable of recording up to 50 hours of programming without the need for a phone line and is designed to support the wide range of interactive and on-demand services deployed today.


"Time Warner Cable is in the beginning stages of deploying Scientific-Atlanta's exciting, new Explorer 8000 digital interactive set-top box and its digital video recording capabilities to our digital customers," said Jeff King, executive vice president of technology and data services, Time Warner Cable. "By offering both DVR and on-demand services, Time Warner Cable can meet the individual entertainment preferences of each of our customers. We're delighted to be partnered with Scientific-Atlanta in both the development and deployment of this second generation, digital set-top box."

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ImpalaSS: I don't see HD mentioned anywhere in that release. I think this is a PVR enabled version of the normal SD box. The last briefing I got on the development of this box was that an HD version would be offered at some point, but I doubt it's deploying now.


I'm pretty sure we'll be deploying some of these, but I'm not convinced this is the way for cable to do PVR. With VOD technology, we could keep the hard drive in our head end vice your settop, and achieve the same effect with lower cost and easier maintenance. The cable world is having a big debate about this.
 

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Greg, you bring up an interesting point of VOD relative to the PVR.


Years ago I heard a discussion about VOD and the general idea was that in the VOD future we would only need bandwidth of about 4 channels to each home. This way a home could watch 4 different programs, each being what ever they wanted, when they wanted. But this assumes complete access to everything ever produced, which is not completely practicle.


Is the new cable-TV idea that we will not need a PVR, because we can get what ever we want from VOD?


Sort of sounds like this idea has re-emerged.


MJ
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by gmclaughlin
ImpalaSS: I don't see HD mentioned anywhere in that release. I think this is a PVR enabled version of the normal SD box. The last briefing I got on the development of this box was that an HD version would be offered at some point, but I doubt it's deploying now.


I'm pretty sure we'll be deploying some of these, but I'm not convinced this is the way for cable to do PVR. With VOD technology, we could keep the hard drive in our head end vice your settop, and achieve the same effect with lower cost and easier maintenance. The cable world is having a big debate about this.


Gregg, thanks for you comments. Personally I have my doubts how any PVR would work within the cable arena unless it was owned by the customer. (perhaps a sidecar device connected to a cable box?). I can also see major support problems if cable were to become a provider of PVR devices.


I have heard before that VOD is the way for cable to go but I would question whether or not the cable company would have the bandwidth to do this for SD much less HD. There is also the cost factor. While we have SVOD (iControl) here now (but not HOD) it is a tad expensive for standard 4:3 fare. We are definitely spoiled by WS DVDs and HD. Heck, standard HBO and Showtime fair goes go mostly unnoticed and unwatched.


Also I see different purposes for a PVR (or DVR) and VOD. While I understand PPV provides an important income stream for cable operators VOD would become cable's version of Pay per Play and that dog won't fly for daily fare. Of course the public America can always continue to use VCRs and maybe that is what cable is thinking will happen.


Regards,

Bruce
 

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Keep in mind that VOD is in its infancy, deployed to bring PPV up to what PPV always should have been -- the equivalent of a trip to the video store, except that you don't have to rent the tape in advance, remember to rewind, scramble to get the tape back on time, and never pay a late fee! (Anybody know what percentage of Blockbuster's revenues come from late fees? It's huge).


SVOD is the next step, where the "S" stands for Subscription. You pay one price, and use the service all you want. This is essentially how you pay for cable or DBS already -- you pay a monthly fee for a subscription to a group of networks. The change would be that you, the consumer, get to decide what to watch, when you want to watch it. HBO, Starz, Discovery (and likely others) are all trying to get into the SVOD ballgame.


Ultimately, I think we'll find ourselves in the situation where all programming, except perhaps news and live sports, is available via SVOD. You'd never have to tell the PVR to record anything, because everything would be recorded already. Essentially you'd have access to a huge library of material.


No guarantee this will happen, but it is one potential future where the technology powering VOD could lead us. The key is the "subscription" business model, vice "per view".
 

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Gregg,


You made some very good points. Thanks. I agree on the BB thing and we try like mad to avoid the late fee for sure. We rent DVDs here about once a week and they cost about the same as PPV here (about $4) and gives us two evenings worth of viewing. PPV may be more convenient but we still prefer DVDs over PPV/VOD in part due to Widescreen format, viewing period, audio choices, and/or extra content.


Thanks for reminding me that the "S" is for subscription. I have heard our VOD (iControl) described as SVOD which it apparently is not though our HBO on Demand (HOD) is. (Here, iControl and PPV work with the 2000HD but HOD does not). A quick survey of prices on iControl shows they vary from about $2 to $9 per showing period (kids stuff to adult). Perhaps other programming is less/more.


What will happen once SVOD and HOD offer movies in HD in competition with their DVD release could change the equation and make things more interesting. A HD PVR or HD-SVOD might be tough competition for BB.


One problem I think might crop up with extensive VOD is choosing what to watch if everything is available all the time. Sometimes seeing someing advertised creates a hunger. If it is in the pantry/bedroom/shelf all the time who cares? Will we see even more banner ads touting programming?


No doubt choosing the right business model is on many peoples minds. Here I am ready to dispense with multiple VCRs and wondering what I will replace them with. I certainly do want it to be HD capable whatever it is (PVR or DVHS). And I see we did stray a bit far from the hardware aspects of this forum. oops.


Bruce
 
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