KPN launches network PVR in the cloud

EXCLUSIVE. Broadband TV News has learned that the new KPN IPTV basic bouquet which offers two IPTV set-top boxes also includes a network PVR functionality. KPN customers can record up to 200 hours from six channels at the same time.

Broadband TV News understands that the new set-tops which KPN is now rolling out to its customers also include the Pause Live TV functionality in the cloud without a local hard disk.

The move makes KPN one of the first operators – if not the first – in Europe to use network PVR, a technology which is regarded to be highly controversial among broadcasters and content owners. KPN charges a monthly fee of €5 for the service.

Four years ago US cable operator Cablevision launched a trial with a network PVR service, which allows subscribers to remotely record programmes at the operator’s server rather than at a local hard drive in their home.

Hollywood studios and broadcasters were quick to jump into action, claiming offering such a facility would infringe their copyrights, and were seeking a ban on the service. The case came to an end in June, 2009, when the Supreme Court ruled it would not hear the case.

It was not the first time Hollywood has acted against new technical developments. In 1984, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the use of video recorders when it rejected a similar copyright challenge. Today, studio income from video sales and rentals (including DVD and Blu-Ray) exceeds proceedings from box office sales.

With declining revenues from physical carriers the studios need to find new income from VOD and other electronic services. However, they still seem to be very reluctant to adopt new technologies and business models.

In an email to Broadband TV News a KPN spokesperson wrote: “A customer must initiate a recording session using the red button or via the EPG, recordings are not automatically made of all programmes. This works the same way as the current hard disk recorder. The only difference is that the recordings are not stored locally (at the home of the viewer) but centrally in the data center of KPN.

The customer initiates the recording, if a customer does not initiate to record a specific programme, this programme is not recorded. If 100 people want to record the same programme, this is stored one time in a central data center. The system records you can watch back that particular programme. The setting of the recording determines what you see, if you start the recording of a programme fifteen minutes too late, you will not see the first quarter of the programme. Programmes are kept for a maximum of one year. Cost is 5 euros a month, the service can be stopped by the customer every month.”

Contacted by Broadband TV News, a spokesperson for RTL Nederland said that for the moment the broadcaster is not commenting on the matter, “KPN has informed us about the new service and we are currently talking with them about it.”

In an emailed statement, BBC Worldwide said “KPN have informed us that they plan to offer their subscribers a Network PVR service. KPN have confirmed to us that their service will comply with Dutch copyright law.”