Hollywood loses its appeal to curb the spread of DVR usage

Television broadcasters, film producers and video providers lost a last ditch effort to curb the growth of DVR usage today when the Supreme Court rejected their appeal on a case that alleged that Cablevision’s remote network-DVR technology violates copyright law.

Cablevision announced plans in 2006 to offer a network-based DVR
system called Remote Storage Digital Video Recorder (RS-DVR) that would
let subscribers store TV programs on the cable operator’s
computer servers and then play them back at will, thereby eliminating
the need for a set top box.

Content creators have alleged that Cablevision’s storage of the
video information online violates their ownership, but it’s not much
different from a standard DVR service, except for where the files are

And the decision today will lead to a much quicker blead of advertising dollars, highlighting the fact that network television has still not found a feasible ad solution to DVR fastforwarding. 

Reading the tea leaves at TimeWarner

timeLet’s not let Time Warner off the hook too easily on its semi-paid content experiment. Some of what EVP John Squires announced to the press last week made a lot of sense, some of it was purposefully vague, and some of it needs translation.

Let’s get to the translation first. Squires said TW will start to experiment with paid content because there “was too much ad inventory online.” Translation: “Yes, we have an ad network in-house (Platform A) but it is not able to provide the CPMs we’re looking for. We’re having a hard time finding advertisers who will pay a reasonable amount of money beyond the home pages and story starts for most of our brands.”

Rethinking Armstrong’s move to AOL

tim armstrongHit “reset” and forget everything you’ve read about Tim Armstrong leaving Google for AOL. Take a leap of faith and believe he was not brought in to take the company public on its own, or paint this house and then sell it to another media company. Armstrong at AOL makes sense on many levels. From TimeWarner CEO Jeff Bewkes’ point of view, this is a logical hire to keep AOL within the company and connect its fate to TimeWarner’s myriad content brands.

Bewkes has been through a few top dogs at AOL. One, Jon Miller, came in with a very impressive resume on the ecommerce and entertainment content lines. His strategy did not drive revenue. Now Bewkes is looking at a company that has media assets occupying very different stages of their lifecycles. Movies and cable are still prime. One of the most troubling assets is a huge stack of print magazines of varying profitability and viability. Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, and even the flagship Time have had a tough time maintaining readership and revenue. Readers have moved online, but TW has cut too many deals to make the internet a value-add for print sales. Revenue migration has lagged.