Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Time Warner Cable Would Like To Kill DVR Functionality

Enjoy fast forwarding through the ads on your DVR recorded programming, Time Warner Cable may just be trying to thwart your efforts.  "The patent, which lists Time Warner Cable principal architect Charles Hasek as the inventor, details how the nation's second largest cable MSO may be able prevent viewers from skipping TV commercials contained in programs stored on physical DVRs it deploys in subscriber homes, network-based DVRs and even recording devices subscribers purchase at retail outlets."  Good news for advertisers, bad news for consumers.  And if successful, they could then license their patent to other cable operators and change the landscape completely.

Time Warner Cable may be reluctant to use too quickly, although they do disable fast forward on their exclusive "Look Back" and "Start Over" features. For overbuilders and satellite providers, the offer of a DVR with a more consumer friendly DVR could be the impetus to cause more subs to leave Time Warner.   In fact, it could make Dish's Hopper DVR that much more desirable.

TWC isn't the only operator trying to salvage the advertiser value in video programming.  "Comcast  recently submitted a patent application that details how it could deliver alternative commercials to subscribers that hit the fast-forward button on their remotes to skip ads."  Or an ad being placed over an ad being fast forwarded through.  We may need to go backwards and start recording again on a VCR so we can retain control over our fast forward functionality.

Is Nook Decline An Indication Of Trouble?

Sometimes it is hard to see the forest through the trees; with the latest quarterly decline of the Nook, one could ask if this is part of a product change or a consumer shift.   Sales for the year rose from the year earlier, but sales for their fiscal fourth quarter declined.  Was the decline due to the introduction of a newer model and consumers waiting to buy it or due to a shift from e-readers to tablets?  Now that digital has been broken out from the brick and mortar business, investors can see more clearly which segments are rising and which are hurting.

More interesting is the effect the future introduction of the Microsoft Surface has on the tablet industry this year.  With Apple, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble competing in the tablet space, Microsoft Surface could take away share from these guys.  With Microsoft's investment in B&N, should there be more synergy.  The Nook app store running inside Surface or sales of Surface at all B&N bookstores.  It makes me wonder, are they partnering or are they competing?