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Can the DVR Still Change TV?

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With streaming media quickly taking over in more and more homes (including mine), no one yet knows what lies ahead for cable and satellite companies. The interesting dicotomy we're seeing now however is that while many people are cutting back on their cable and satellite subscriptions, many others are adding DVR service. In fact, usage is up so much that networks are actually paying attention to the Live+7 numbers.

So what does this mean? Is the DVR going to keep cable and satellite MSOs in the mix when it comes to getting content? Signs say yes and no so let's take a look at the broad picture.

Streaming Up

Yes, streaming providers such as Netflix, Amazon VoD and Hulu Plus are doing well. "Cord-cutting" is serious enough that the providers are paying attention. That said, the number of subscribers dropping their video service has dropped in recent quarters and some companies are even stating to see consumers come back to cable TV packages.

While the number of people who stream their content instead of pay an MSO is on the rise, they don't make up the majority of Americans and it's going to take years before they do. Not only do more people need to continue to subscribe to these services but the services themselves need to grow content-wise. Only being able to view older content or content only from specific companies in specific places isn't helping them. While I certainly don't have a problem going to each content producer for their content, it seems to me that the overall cost is going to increase if that's the way to go. It also adds to the amount of work consumers need to do in order to find their content.

DVR Usage Up

As streaming becomes more and more popular, a technology that's well over a decade old is apparently catching on as well. DVR usage is up. Way up. As mentioned above, it's high enough now that networks actually watch the DVR numbers before making decisions regarding which shows will be canceled. The question here is why? That's easy to answer when it comes to streaming but with DVRs it gets a bit more complicated.

DVRs cost more, they don't add any content that can't be had somewhere else and it's just one more box you have to keep next to your TV and learn how to use. Why would DVRs now start to take off and become more useful?

The simple answer is: streaming content. Services such as Netflix have begun conditioning people to expect to be able to watch their content WHEN they want to and the DVR allows you to do this with live TV. Many people didn't see the value in the DVR until they started using a service like Netflix, watched the shows they wanted but were then stuck on a schedule with standard live TV. Streaming content showed people that there is a better way.

For those of us who have been using a DVR for several years it's a no-brainer but many people couldn't justify the cost. Until the ability to choose their TV viewing time was taken away. Now they can't live without it.

Conclusion

The idea that cable and satellite companies are going away any time soon is a joke. We've been hearing it for some time now and while the industry will certainly have to change, you're going to be able to get a live TV subscription from an MSO for quite some time. And this is a good thing. Hopefully the added competition that companies like Amazon and Netflix bring will be a good thing. Lower prices, better hardware. These can be the results of this competition and hopefully we'll see it continue for a long time to come.

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