A few years ago, Cablevision made headlines for threatening to take away customer’s precious digital video recorders (DVR) in favor of a remote, centralized DVR. It would save Cablevision the hassle of servicing leased STB, potentially multiple in a home. STB manufacturers, already fearing drop in their product demand due to CableCard, were up in arms. Those same vendors may now put their arms down.
Look out, Cablevision customers in New York City. If you’re using a QAM-tuner-equipped TV to receive unencrypted basic cable channels without a set-top box, your boxless days may be numbered. Cablevision is lobbying the Federal Communications Commission for permission to lock up QAM tuners.
Putting aside the shaky ground this petition stands on for the moment, what is really behind this calculated move by Cablevision?
What would prevent subscribers from dropping Cablevision service? If the metro-NYC viewer really wanted clear QAM, for the time being FIOS is a perfectly good option. Not to mention they already claim a better DVR experience, offering the capability to share recorded programs to any other STB in the residence. They won this guy’s vote:
How did Cablevision react to that chess move? Free Wi-Fi for subscribers to its bundled online service. Cablevision made sure that you can have the same web experience at home or within the Optimum Wi-Fi service area. An ever increasing area that is a significant investment in its infrastructure.
Why would Cablevision want to direct dollars into that area? TV Everywhere could be one answer.
Wouldn’t preserving clear QAM allow the occasional siphoning of service and loss of revenue? Of course, but it could also turn the casual viewer in an avid consumer suitable for up-selling premium services:
- movie channels
- DVR capability
Where does TV Everywhere fit in all of this? Cablevision is already testing out with Yankees games over the web in an conjunction with YES and MLB. FIOS has the same option and was quick to jump onto Time Warner Cable’s TV Everywhere bandwagon.
Cablevision is attempting to keep their customer base and going one better than Time Warner and FIOS with its Wi-Fi strategy. A necessary preemptive move since it lacks
- the content library of Time Warner
- the cellular operation of Verizon
- social marketing savvy of AT&T
Of course, if TV Everywhere does take off and PC or similarly capable appliances dominate the market place, that once again eliminates those pesky leased STB. But that won’t happen anytime soon. Just ask
Don’t forget, there’s always free to air broadcast. Right FCC?