Look out Telstra and Foxtel: TiVo is pushing to be bigger than ever. The PVR that is a runaway success in the US is taking further steps to cement their position as a premium content provider in Australia.
The secret behind TiVo's grand relaunch owes much to their IPTV strategy, called CASPA. It is essentially television content piped over your broadband connection.
CASPA will initially provide over 1,000 hours of on-demand content and that figure is expected to increase over the coming months after the on-demand service is launched on December 1 this year. The older Blockbuster on-demand service is expected to be phased out over time.
ISPs such as Internode, iiNet and AAPT already perform the bulk of the heavy data lifting, providing TiVo box owners with unmetered access to the content, a model that is expected to be supported by advertising, as with Hulu and YouTube.
Not surprisingly, there will be an alternative pay-per-view option for those of us who simply can't stand two to three minutes of advertising. According to an Age report, those advertisements would effectively be un-skippable and cost something in the neighbourhood of a couple of dollars per show.
TiVo programming content is thought to include music concerts, celeb interviews, children's shows and whatever other shows Foxtel hasn't already hoarded away thanks to established licensing agreements.
How much will it cost?
On the surface, TiVo appears to be a better deal now, depending on how you define 'deal'. For $699 (up $100 from their original package), new TiVo customers will receive double the old hard drive space at 320GB, up significantly from TiVo's initial 160GB offering. The price also includes a home networking package valued at $199, bundled free-of-charge.
How the NBN may determine the future of IPTV
TiVo are investing heavily in the future success of the NBN and Australia's promise of a high speed network is key to much of the IPTV merry-go-round. IPTV is essentially dead in the water without the bulk of Australians having access to high speed broadband connection.
But that isn't stopping TiVo from pushing ahead with CASPA. iTnews reported yesterday that free TiVo units would be given to 1000 fibre testers in Tasmania - many of whom are among the first group of households in Australia to test the promised NBN speeds of 100Mbit. The potential of these NBN speeds would provide TiVo will valuable data in how the IPTV service is best reached and utilised.
Other new boxes and services: T-Box, Fetch TV
But that isn't deterring a slew of competitors from charging at Foxtel and taking TiVo's lead. In fact, all this IPTV talk comes hot off the heels of Telstra's announcement of the T-Box, which will deliver free content (mainly Bigpond channels) over broadband to our televisions or PCs.
But neither TiVo or Telstra will be first to stake their spot in the IPTV era. Sydney based internet service provider TPG have already commenced IPTV operations with 20 channels, offering a mix of foreign language content via ADSL2+.
And even though some ISPs are keen to offer unmetered downloads of TiVo content, iiNet and Internode are also likely to jump into the IPTV game with their own PVR products - and perhaps taking TiVo head on in the process.
Last week, The Australian confirmed that both ISPs were busily engaged with meetings with Malaysian-owned Fetch TV, another IPTV service aiming to deliver a slew of content to our computers and televisions. Both ISPs are expected to offer their own branded PVR box with a TV subscription service.
Unlike TiVo's ad-supported free show, Fetch TV will be offering foreign and English speaking channels for an extra monthly fee, reportedly costing $20 to $25, on top of customers' existing broadband bill. IPTV is sure to be the next big thing in Australia, so stay tuned for more updates.