Home-brewed TV Everywhere

Unlike Jeff Bewkes’ original vision for TV Everywhere, in which all new use-cases for TV content would be discretely licensed, the courts are carving out a growing list of use-cases that do not need to be licensed.

Fanhattan (sort of) pulls a Microsoft

Fanhattan today unveiled Fan TV at the D11 conference, a nifty new set-top device with a very slick, touch-driven interface that, like the Xbox One, aims to integrate linear and OTT video. Unlike the Xbox, however, Fan TV will enable DVR functionality and access to on-demand content from your pay-TV provider.

Can Tom Rutledge bring innovation back to Charter?

Charter Communications picked up one of the hardest-working men in the cable business when it named Tom Rutledge as its CEO. And it couldn’t have come at a more critical time, as Charter faces consumer demand for TV Everywhere and increasing competition from streaming services.

Supremes Won’t Hear Cablevision Case, Hello Remote DVRs!

Cablevision (s CVC) can do a victory lap today as the Supreme Court decided to not hear the appeal over the cableco’s remote storage (or “network”) DVR. The decision paves the way for DVR functionality and storage to move from a set-top box in a user’s home to Cablevision’s facilities, where users would access and control recorded content remotely through their TV sets.

The case against Cablevision was brought on by a group of Hollywood studios and networks who claimed that the technology violated their copyrights. After years of working its way through the legal system, the Supreme Court asked the Justice Department to weigh in on the topic in January. In May, the Solicitor General recommended the Supremes not take up the case, and it looks like that advice was heeded.

Read More about Supremes Won’t Hear Cablevision Case, Hello Remote DVRs!

Cablevision Network DVR Gets Supreme Court Blessing

[qi:032] Cablevision (s CVC) today got further blessings from the Supreme Court, which decided not to hear an appeal in the networked DVR-related litigation. We have been following this story pretty closely, and frankly, it is good to see an end to litigation around this technology. Many studios and TV networks such as Paramount, Disney, CBS and NBC are opposed to network DVRs. A network DVR is a way for consumers to record, save and recall their favorite television programs and movies on the remote servers of the cable company. It eliminates the need for owning a local DVR-type device like the ones made by TiVo (s TIVO). Cablevision will launch the service later this summer, including features that would allow you to pause live television when a Cablevision-provided phone rings in your house.

Justice Dept. Sides With Cablevision Over Remote DVRs

Cablevision (s CVC) was handed a nice victory this afternoon as the United States Solicitor General recommended that the Supreme Court not take up the case against the cable company’s remote storage DVR (also known as the networked DVR).

The move helps pave the way for Cablevision to roll out its remote storage DVR, something the company says could start doing this summer, according to one analyst’s report last week.

A slew of studios and TV networks including Paramount (s VIA), Disney (s DIS), CBS (s CBS), and NBC (s GE) were opposed the technology, which moves the recording of TV programs from a home-based set-top box to the cable company, claiming that the remote storage DVR violated its copyrights. The case has been making its way through the courts for years. In 2007, a District Court ruled in favor of the copyright holders, only to be overturned by the Second Circuit U.S. Appeals Court in August of 2008. The case made its way to the Supremes in October of last year and in January the court punted to the DOJ asking for its opinion as to whether or not take the case.

Read More about Justice Dept. Sides With Cablevision Over Remote DVRs

Vid-Biz: Jon Miller, Zillion, MSN

Former AOL CEO to be News Corp Chief Digital Officer; Jon Miller will lead all digital initiatives and will likely join the Hulu board. Meanwhile, current Fox Interactive President Peter Levinsohn will be president of new media and digital distribution for Fox Filmed Entertainment. (Deadline Hollywood Daily, paidContent)
ZillionTV Adds Weinstein Company Content; movies such as The Reader to be available through the forthcoming set-top box. (release) See our previous coverage of ZillionTV.
MSN Ramps Up Original Online Series; company’s branded entertainment and experiences team to launch 15 projects, many of which are web series. (MediaWeek)
YouTube Back Up in China; government lifts block of the video-sharing site that was in place last week. Meanwhile, the sites’ user accounts may be tied to citizens’ real identities in South Korea. (The New York Times, paidContent)
Lonelygirl15 and KateModern to be Distributed in Japan; agreement between EQAL and Shinto Tsushin will bring dubbed versions of the series to the Japanese market. (emailed release)
Tandberg Television Unveils Ad Insertion for Network DVRs; technology allows for dynamic commercial placement at the headend. (Broadcasting & Cable)

Is There Still a Need for Network DVRs?

The Supreme Court decided yesterday that it was not going to hear the case of Cablevision (s CVC) vs. the Hollywood networks and studios over remote storage DVRs. Instead, the high court asked the Justice Department to weigh in on whether Cablevision’s proposed centralized video recording service would violate copyright law. Translation: It’ll be months before a decision is made. But does the question even matter any more?

We continue to scratch our heads over why Hollywood is so opposed to the notion of a cable company centrally hosting a subscriber’s DVR; it seems like a win-win-win situation. Cable subscribers would have one less box in the home and get more storage, cable companies could save money by not distributing boxes to every home, and content owners could better control their content and dynamically change ads within recorded shows.

But as usual, by the time this legal bickering concludes (the case has already been going on for three years), technology will be close to leapfrogging the mess entirely. As we saw at last week’s CES, TVs jacking in and receiving content directly over the Internet is the new black. Netflix (s NFLX), Amazon (s AMZN) VOD and YouTube (s GOOG) are coming to your big-screen TV. Since these services stream content (in HD, no less) there’s no need to record them — users just pluck them out of the video cloud.

Granted, these services still need to work on the amount of content offered and the release windows, but they’re getting better. Which is more than I can say about the prospects for a remote storage DVR.

Cablevision Provides More Details on Network DVR

Hot on the heels of its legal victory in August, Cablevision (s cvc) is going full steam ahead with its plan to roll out a network DVR early next year, offering up a few more details about the service to the Associated Press.

Cablevison’s network DVR would offer 160 GB of storage (roughly the same as a standard DVR) and would cost $9.95 a month (the same as a current DVR service), according to Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge. And rather than a box that requires company installation, there will be a new screen with the DVR interface for users to record and play back their TV shows.

Read More about Cablevision Provides More Details on Network DVR

Cablevision: Heck Yeah, We’re Doing Network DVRs

Cablevision, which recently claimed a legal victory when a court ruled that its network DVR does not infringe on copyright, says it will be taking the service to market “early next year,” reports Light Reading. Speaking at a Merrill Lynch Conference in Marina Del Ray, Calif., Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge said the company would roll out network (or “remote storage”) DVRs:

“…on our campus next week…We have advised all the copyright holders that we are going to do it. We’ll be doing a real consumer trial in the relatively near future.”

Pricing and packaging have yet to be laid out, but Rutledge says the network DVR would cost the cable company $100 less per customer than supplying each one with their own box.

Some people aren’t fans of the network DVR and the idea of giving up control, but we don’t think it’s such a dumb idea. Storage wouldn’t be limited to what could fit an individual box (sorry, TiVo and your huge new XL), you could access content from any room in the house, and my wife would throw up her arms and cheer as we tossed the hulking silver monstrosity currently sitting under our TV.

Of course, the previous court decision could be appealed and taken to the Supreme Court, but until then, kudos to Cablevision for forging ahead.