How does digital cable's "Start Over" feature work?

I’m not sure if this is a feature common to other cable operators, but Time Warner Cable offers a feature called “Start Over.” On certain channels, if you alight on a program after it’s begun, an animated popup appears that says “Start Over” – giving you the option to, well, start the program from the beginning.

It’s not like the program’s been running and has thus been stored in my cable box – even if I’ve just turned to the channel and haven’t seen the previous minutes, I can restart, rewind and fast-forward through the program. It’s like a mini-DVR. Amazing!

How on earth is this possible?

From what I can tell with a limited amount of Googling, it works like the on-demand service that most cable systems have.

Apparently for certain channels they record the shows at their office and store them for a limited time after the show has ended. If you tune in while the show is still in progress, you can view it from their servers.

I don’t know about your service but my Comcast cable box records what is in progress unless programmed otherwise. While tuned in on one channel it records that channel and allows returning to the time the channel was selected. Otherwise it sounds as if you have something similar to “On Demand” available.

I’m almost certain this is how it works. My own cable service has just debuted the “Start Over” feature and it has an identical interface to the other On-Demand programming.

That’s amazing. Thank you, **FatBaldGuy **! It’s a great feature. I just couldn’t fathom how they could make it happen without a helluva lot of pre-recording, which seemed like an awful lot of work on the part of Time Warner. But apparently that IS how it happens. Incredible. I mean, it’s not even for important network shows. I get this on reruns of COPS on G4, for pete’s sake.

I suppose it might not be that much work for them. I mean they’re already receiving and sending signals for all the channels anyway, and with how cheap hard drives are nowadays, I suspect recording each show until it’s over isn’t that much trouble. Whenever I go to the cable office to get a new cable box, it seems they have dozens of TVs showing different channels anyway.

It just switches you over to on-demand feed for the same programming. If you’re watching something that isn’t currently available on demand, you won’t get the start over option.

I’m pretty sure you can’t fast-forward. I have Brighthouse Cable (which is Time-Warner) and on the “start over” channels you can pause and rewind only. I guess they disabled that feature as a way of making you watch ads.

I don’t think thats the case. There are entire channels that have the “start over” option available at all times, and the shows on there are not on-demand. This is Bright House’s program:

Not much work indeed. Our local TWC offers the “Start Over” feature on all of like 8 channels, yet they hype the hell out of it. I think only two of the channels are ones that I have ever even watched.

All the channels listed have some of their programming available via on-demand, and I don’t see anything that says every show on those channels is available.