Time Warner Cable has just launched a new feature for 13 million digital customers across the United States in hopes of keeping them from leaving in favor of Hulu, Netflix, and other video streaming services now available on the web.
Look Back is an on-demand type of feature which allows Time Warner customers with digital cable receivers, even those without a DVR, to watch previously-aired programming up to 72 hours later. There are no special settings that customers must enable in order to activate the recordings. All of the programming is stored on Time Warner servers and is automatically accessible immediately after a show is finished broadcasting.
“Look Back gives customers the ability to further time-shift and achieve more control over the programming they want to watch,” said Time Warner Cable’s Executive VP and Chief Programming Officer Melinda Witmer. “There is no need to set a DVR and no worries about getting special equipment. Look Back is easy, fast and simple for all of us with busy schedules.”
Channels will be limited at first, but are expected to expand as the company gains more server capacity to handle it. Currently there are 24 HD and 24 standard definition channels that are enabled with Look Back including ABC, NBC, Discovery Network and Food Network.
Service area is also going to be limited for now. Look back will launch in New York, New England, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin and parts of Texas.
Of course there is one catch: Fast forward has been disabled so that customers are unable to skip through commercials when using Look Back. Time Warner says that they had to agree to this in order to gain the necessary programming rights for the service.
I don’t have Time Warner Cable service in my home so I won’t be trying this out, but from an outsiders perspective I can’t see Look Back saving the company customers who are looking to “cut the cord”. 72 hours, though much more than what was previously available, seems to be too limited. Plus, the lack of fast-forward functionality is going to be a huge turn-off for many. It is, however, a step in the right direction for one cable giant, and maybe this will evolve into something better eventually.