Comcast recruiting architect to build network DVR

Steve Donohue, FierceCable

2/26/13

Comcast is building a network, or cloud-based DVR, that will be integrated with its new Xfinity X1 service, according to a job listing it posted last week.

“TVX is fundamentally changing the definition of digital video recorders by setting up virtual recording and storage in the cloud. This is being integrated with the revolutionary Xfinity TV X1 platform and mobile devices as part of creating an end-to-end IP video infrastructure supporting a wide suite of next-generation, interactive media products,” Comcast wrote in the job listing for an operations architect.

It’s not clear if TVX is a brand that Comcast will use for the network DVR or if it is a name the company is using internally. Comcast spokesman Peter Dobrow declined to comment.

Cablevision was the first U.S. cable operator to launch a network-based DVR in 2011. The MSO has said its Optimum DVR will allow it to reduce capital spending on physical DVRs and increase penetration for DVR service since the product is available to any subscriber with a digital set-top.

Comcast unveiled the blueprint for a network DVR in a patent application it filed last year. The patent application, titled “Content Archive Model,” details how subscribers would be assigned both “active” and “archive” storage space on a network DVR, and how the device may be able to move programs from archive servers to active servers based on demand and the viewing habits of subscribers. “A user may be granted 16 GB of storage in the active storage, and another 256 GB of storage in the archive storage,” Comcast wrote in the patent application.

Time Warner Cable and Verizon have also filed patent applications for technology related to network, or cloud-based DVRs.

Comcast launched the cloud-based Xfinity X1 service last May in Boston. The product is available in several major markets including San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit told analysts on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call earlier this month that Comcast will expand X1 to all of its cable systems nationwide this year.

By integrating a cloud-based DVR with X1, Comcast may be able to increase DVR penetration and reduce spending on physical DVRs. The product could also help it compete with DirecTV, Dish Network and other rivals.

According to the job listing Comcast posted on Feb. 20, the architect for the cloud-based DVR would be based in Philadelphia. Executives applying for the job should have at least 15 years of experience in Java development, Web service architecture, messaging architecture and data storage design, Comcast said.