Time Warner will offer a free DVR ‘like’ service in select markets. The service is branded as Look Back, and allows subscribers to watch television shows that they have missed on any given day, as long as they watch them before midnight. The DVR function is fairly limited. It doesn’t allow for fast forwarding for example, preventing subscribers from ad skipping. Look Back joins Time Warner’s other DVR ‘light’ service, Start Over. Start Over allows subscribers to go back to the beginning of a TV show if they have missed up to the first 30 minutes of the program. Time Warner is spending considerable time and effort with these trials to develop a long term DVR strategy.
DVR presents interesting challenges for cable operators. While it provides a great value add service to subscribers, it also alienates advertisers, an important revenue stream and business partner to multichannel video service providers. Finding the right balance between meeting subscriber demands and keeping advertisers happy is the desired goal. Time Warner’s experiments are providing them valuable data. Data they may someday be able to use as a competitive advantage.