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Cloud DVR keeps your TV from wasting space

The bad habits of TV viewers like you and me – well, definitely me – are convincing pay TV providers around the world to turn to cloud DVR. Here’s a quick straw poll to show you why:

Hands up who has stuff recorded on their DVRs that they’ve never watched? I know I have. Movies I recorded for my kids 3 Christmases ago. A documentary on bats that seemed really good last year but is never quite as interesting as whatever is on now. We all do it. The advent of digital storage has made it so easy to record programs that we do it “just in case”. In fact, studies show that around 40% of the content we record is NEVER watched. Add that up across all the DVRs out there and we’re talking about petabytes of expensive storage space that is being wasted. What if we could move that stored content off of our personal devices and into the cloud?

Cloud DVR savings

This is one of the areas where cloud DVR technology, also known as network DVR, is really, really useful. If you and I both want to record the movie premier on TV this Saturday, a cloud DVR solution only needs to make one copy,[1] which we both access whenever we want. That’s an immediate 50% space saving just between the two of us. To help service providers take storage savings even further, Alcatel-Lucent is using cloud DVR technology to address another common usage pattern. Of the 60% of stored content that is watched, the vast majority is consumed and deleted within a week or so. This is mainly catch-up TV but also some personal recordings. This content is, logically, also the most frequently accessed, meaning higher demand on a pay TV provider’s infrastructure. By separating this content from recordings that are stored longer term – and accessed less frequently – providers can save on storage space and ensure a better user experience.

Tiered network DVR storage for better performance

In our “tiered” storage cloud DVR solution, recent content sits in an “active” tier and is stored in all the different formats needed for different types of devices, including constant bitrate for delivery to a set-top box and multiple bitrate for IP devices. The fast tier has a high throughput to ensure it can keep up with demand, but a limited storage capacity. Separate from this is an “archive” tier for my 3-year old Christmas movies. Here, the content is stored as a “master” file in one format. In the unlikely event I’m ever going to watch one of the movies, the content gets transcoded on demand and packaged into the appropriate format for the screen I’m using. The archive tier has larger storage capacity but conversely a more restricted throughput as content is accessed less frequently. We think of digital storage as unlimited, and in a sense it is. But there are huge cost implications to the service provider of adding more and more bytes. By tiering storage, similar to the way many people use large external hard drives alongside their PC’s limited internal storage, we can bring down the cost of cloud DVR services and improve your user experience. So once network DVR comes to your TV set – and there are signs it will soon – you can program your DVR for that late-night movie safe in the knowledge that you’re not wasting any resources. Because I probably already recorded it 3 Christmases ago.

Related Material

Alcatel-Lucent Cloud DVR webpage


  1. [1]This is subject to local copyright laws. Some countries require one copy of the content per user, while others allow this “shared copy” approach

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Mathew Pitt-Bailey

About Mathew Pitt-Bailey

Mathew is Director Product Communications, leading media and analyst relations for Alcatel-Lucent’s IP Video and Fixed Networks businesses. Prior to this, he led employee, customer and partner communications for Alcatel-Lucent’s Enterprise business. Mathew has almost 20 years of telecoms industry experience, which makes him older than he cares to admit.

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