The Death of Television Draws Ever Nearer

The Supreme Court just effectively doubled the number of Americans who have access to ad-skipping DVR technology. TV is in trouble.

Today the Court declined to hear an appeal from a coalition of television networks in Cable News Network v. CSC Holdings. The decision means that Cablevision will be allowed to deploy remote-DVR technology, letting customers who don't have DVRs record programs and pause live TV using Cablevision's centralized servers. An appeals court ruled last year that Cablevision's scheme didn't amount to copyright infringement—it was no different than a viewer using a VCR, the appeals court ruled, it's just that the VCR is digital and housed on a server somewhere maintained by the cable company—and the Supreme Court's decision not to take the case means the growing minority of TV watchers who haven't seen a commercial in years is about to get much larger:

Industry experts say the new technology could put digital recording service in nearly half of all American homes, about twice the current number. That's what has movie studios, TV networks and cable channels worried. DVRs allow viewers easily to skip past commercials.

DVRs have heretofore been relatively high-end toys for wealthy viewers. Depending on the pricing mechanisms that Cablevision and other companies deploying remote DVRs intend to use, they could go mass-market very quickly.

[Photo via Flickr by autowitch.]