Cox Fast-Forwards Set-Top Box, Unveils Accelerated DVR Roll Out Plan

Cox Communications, the third largest cable system operator behind Comcast and Time Warner, Tuesday said subscribers in more than 95 percent of its markets would have access to its digital video recorder services by the end of the year. While the company did not disclose the actual take rates among consumers opting to subscribe to the service, the aggressive rollout plan for Cox's DVR service affirms analyst predictions that DVR penetration is set to surge.

DVRs are currently estimated to be available in between 4 percent and 5 percent of U.S. TV households and Nielsen Media Research has informed clients that the technology could be present in as much as 10 percent of U.S. households by the end of 2005. Because of the accelerate rate of growth, Nielsen has set plans to begin incorporating DVRs into its national and local TV ratings samples beginning next year, and this week unveiled plans to provide clients with two sets of commercial ratings data: one reflecting live-only viewing; the other reflecting live plus-seven days of DVR usage.

"In every market previously launched, customers have been lined up on a waiting list for this product," said Lisa Pickelsimer, director of video product development at Cox. "Word is out that DVR can change the way people watch television, making it more convenient and more personal. We felt it was important to get this product to market as quickly as we could in order to put this cutting edge technology to work for our customers."

Cox first launched DVR service in its Gainesville, Fla. and Northern Virginia markets in early 2003, utilizing Scientific-Atlanta set-top technology. Early Cox research showed that 93 percent of Cox DVR customers have recommended or plan to recommend the product to a friend. The research also showed that the service strongly increases a customer's overall satisfaction with Cox.

When Cox launched DVR service in Kansas earlier this month, its first DVR market using Motorola technology, it had more than 2,000 preorders for the service.