The thing about DVRs is that they fill up.  But with TiVo’s Network DVR (NDVR), unveiled at CES today, TV shows and movies can be be stored up in the cloud instead of on a hard drive.  The news doesn’t exactly come as a shock.  After all, the company released a prototype called the PVR back in September and has focused on adding cloud capabilities to its service and apps.  Nevertheless, the NDVR is here and CES visitors got a first look at it in action.

Similar to the original device, the TiVo Network DVR project brings the Roamio experience we already enjoyed on its latest DVRs to the cloud, letting them push recordings out over the internet instead of utilizing a hard drive.  This will not only lower the cost of producing hardware, but also extend current features and functionality on top of its service such as allowing co-viewing experiences through social networks  and letting viewers get their TiVo on an iPad.

TiVo Network DVR content view.

The one big bummer about the whole thing is that it won’t be offered directly to consumers.   TiVo would instead offer the NDVR through partnerships with cable, satellite, and IPTV providers.  Those partners would be responsible for rolling out the new service by making the cloud-enabled network DVR service available to their subscribers.

As a result of this model, TiVo’s partners would be responsible for providing all the storage and connectivity to content, while TiVo would provide the apps and user interface. This model is similar to the way TiVo currently interacts with Netflix and other streaming video partners.  However, this new setup could enable its service provider partners to manage various content rights, create different tiers of service, and set their own multiscreen policies.

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The only snag is convincing cable operators to use their product instead of their own. Comcast, for example, just announced its own Xfinity-branded cloud solution: the X2 set-top box.  But for smaller operators, the NDVR may be the way to go.


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