Distributors say TiVo getting better reception

By John Drinnan

TiVo combines a MySky-type personal video recorder function and advanced TV and movie downloads with free and paid content. Photo / Sarah Ivey
TiVo combines a MySky-type personal video recorder function and advanced TV and movie downloads with free and paid content. Photo / Sarah Ivey

TiVo's Australasian distributors insist the advanced recorder and internet TV device has been getting an improved reception from consumers.

But neither Hybrid Television Services nor TiVo partner Telecom are providing sales figures after very slow early uptake.

TiVo combines a MySky-type personal video recorder function and advanced TV and movie downloads with free and paid content.

Its capacity for movie and TV show downloads from the internet is more advanced than MySky. But MySky - linked to Sky pay TV subscriptions - is planning to ramp up internet offerings at the end of this year.

Uncapped broadband access is also important for IPTV and both Hybrid and Sky have been talking to internet service providers.

While initial promotion has focused on TiVo and the personal video recorder (PVR) functions, Hybrid is focused on Caspa - TiVo's attractive electronic programming guide and search facility.

Access to bandwidth remains important. Under an exclusive six-month deal, Telecom Xtra customers have had an uncapped capacity for broadband. The deal ended last month and Hybrid chief executive Robbee Minicola says she is talking to other ISPs operating in the New Zealand market.

Neither Hybrid nor Telecom would discuss Telecom's ongoing relationship with TiVo. "I can tell you it is not ending in five minutes or five months," Minicola said.

While TiVo sales have been limited - and in the early days concerns were raised about the amount of content that was available for download through TiVo - Caspa, TiVo's search and electronic programming guide, has drawn bouquets from TiVo users.

They say it is attractive and easy to use.

But television and internet television technologies - and alliances with the likes of international giants such as Google - mean the sector is developing swiftly.

Media analyst Michael Carney points out that television "add-ons" that have been in set top boxes are increasingly being incorporated within new television sets.

As the global shift to internet downloads of video takes off - IPTV - TV manufacturers are providing access to internet download services as part of TV sets.

Among these will be Hybrid's Caspa. And it is apparent that this - more than the TiVo set top box - is the key to its future growth. Hybrid is one-third co-owned by TVNZ and two-thirds by the Australian Seven Network.

TVNZ and Seven Network have been working with Hollywood suppliers to release internet rights, so that more content can be available through TiVo/Caspa.

Both broadcasters have been moving into the online space - with Seven in a joint venture with Yahoo and TVNZ investing in its digital space.

Minicola said that the aim was to make TiVo and Caspa a subscription-free alternative to Sky TV.

Sky is poised to expand into IPTV at the end of this year.

- NZ Herald

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