In an effort to stave off further cord-cutting as well as catch up with rivals, Verizon* announced today that its FiOS customers will be able to stream their DVR recordings outside of the home, anywhere they have an Internet connection, for the first time. In addition, the company says customers are now able to watch all their live TV channels on any device while in the home and on their FiOS network.
[*Disclosure: TechCrunch parent company AOL was acquired by Verizon earlier this year.]
Verizon has been developing its mobile application for its FiOS TV customers for some time.
In late 2012, it finally transitioned away from requiring an intermediary software application running on users’ PCs to allow streaming to work, and instead began sending content directly to mobile devices. Over the years, it has expanded its support for mobile TV streaming, introducing the ability for users to watch live television outside the home in 2013 via this app. However, DVR recordings were not supported at that time.
Today, that’s changing – at least, for select customers. Verizon says that those with its FiOS Quantum TV service and FiOS Internet will now have the option to watch “nearly all” their recorded shows on any device via the FiOS Mobile App for iOS or Android. (The company has not clarified which content is the exception.)
The app also supports live TV streaming while in the home, plus the ability to watch any DVR content while on your FiOS network. Users can additionally access on-demand titles, manage their DVR through the app, use their mobile device as a remote, and configure parental controls, notes Verizon.
However, it’s the support for watching DVR recordings that’s the most notable news today – and more relevant than ever, given the accelerating cord-cutting trend here in the U.S.
A recent study released this month by eMarketer stated that by 2018, 21 percent of U.S. households won’t pay for traditional TV. Cord cutters are looking for better ways to watch any TV programming at any time, anywhere and, on-demand. Offering a DVR streaming feature, then, could potentially convince some portion cord-cutters to keep their traditional cable TV subscription, as it allows for expanded program availability and cross-platform support.
And it’s unclear how many users will be convinced to not cut the cord thanks to this belated improvement.
Plus, the real challenge for cable TV providers may not even be those who drop their service in favor of streaming alternatives like Netflix, but those who never sign up in the first place. By year-end, these “cord-nevers,” as they’re called, and cord cutters combined will total 20.8 million, or 17 percent of U.S. households. That’s something Verizon can’t necessarily impact by allowing DVR access outside the home.
That’s also why the company, like its competitors, is now investing in mobile video. Verizon offers an over-the-top streaming service called go90, while Comcast offers two streaming services, Watchable and Stream. Dish has Sling TV, and Time Warner began testing Internet-only TV this fall.