The Seven Network is set to go head to head with Foxtel in a content battle that will see the network deliver content to TiVo set top boxes in the home, mobile phones and over Wi Fi networks, a senior executive of a Seven subsidary has confirmed.
Speaking to SmartHouse, Ian Smith the former CEO of TCG one of Australia’s largest advertising groups and now a director of Engin – a Seven Network company said, “The battle is about content as well as Data, Voice and IPTV. In the short term content will be delivered to devices, but over time and as broadband gets faster consumers will be able to go to a Seven web site and download content”.
Smith who was also CEO of Yahoo, a Seven Network company, added, “The landscape is changing and in the future the issue will be the quality of content that consumers can access”.
Another senior Seven executive admitted that the Network is keen to take on both Foxtel and Nine in the content marketplace and that by acquiring assets like Engine and Unwired Seven are also able to make a play in the Data and Voice Network.
Ian Smith admitted that a major asset for Seven was the fact that Seven is in an excellent position to market the sale of voice, data and content over their own network and in front of millions of Australians everyday via the Seven TV network.
Stung by his loss in the C7 case against Telstra, Foxtel, Nine and News Ltd, Seven could well become a thorn in the side of these players as the battle for content over an IP network hots up.
Seven, cashed up after tipping its media assets into a private equity joint venture last year, said today it would bid 45 cents a share in cash for Unwired, which provides wireless Internet services in Australia.
Seven said its offer would increase to 50 cents a share if it acquired at least 90 percent of the firm, valuing the bid at A$127 million. Unwired directors backed the offer.
A key beneficiary of the deal will be Intel who acquired a shareholding in Unwired 2 years ago.
Shares in Unwired, which have jumped about 50 percent this month, last traded at 48 cents ahead of a trading halt. Seven shares closed on Wednesday at A$13.12.
Broadband phone group Engin Ltd which is part owned by Seven, upped a strategic stake in Unwired last week to 19.9 percent.
Seven, which owns Australia’s top-rating commercial television station, said the deal would help it deliver its programmes through new technologies.
“We’re acquiring a strong business and spectrum that will build our company’s abilities to compete in new media technologies,” Seven Chairman Kerry Stokes said in a statement.
In May, Seven announced the creation of a digital platform to enable TiVo’s digital video recorder and service, including TiVo user interface to be launched by the Network. Seven said that platform will be available for use by other broadcasters and broadband content owners to create a compelling, interactive, free to air digital terrestrial television offering.
“Every night, the vast majority of Australians turn to free to air broadcasters for their television entertainment. The Australian television market is on the cusp of a significant migration to digital television that will greatly expand the choices available on free-to-air television ” said Tom Rogers, President and CEO of TiVo. “We are excited to play a key role in driving this transition by partnering with the top television network in the country to establish Seven’s leadership of this transformation.”
Added Rogers, “This new partnership with Seven will utilize TiVo’s content search and discovery features, TiVo’s powerful advertising capabilities and broadband video straight to the TV set. This relationship demonstrates our ability to deploy the TiVo service on the digital terrestrial, or DVB-T standard, which has now been globally adopted and will represent more than 100 million homes by 2009. It demonstrates the opportunities TiVo has to work with leading broadcasters who have substantial marketing clout to drive TiVo DVR penetration by adopting our hardware and software approaches to this globally important standard.”
Chief Executive Officer of Seven Media Group, Mr. David Leckie said, “This association unites the strengths of free to air television and TiVo to deliver new digital services to the Australian consumer. Free-to-Air television is well positioned in Australia to benefit from the TiVo service in offering viewers the chance to easily find and automatically record the programming they want, schedule their viewing time and vastly extend their overall television viewing experience.”
“Through TiVo, Seven will leverage our broadcast television and publishing businesses, deliver new advertising and marketing solutions, and expand our presence in new communications platforms, as we work in partnership with Yahoo!7 and Engin. As a broadcaster, we are uniquely positioned to promote DVRs while simultaneously defining the future of television advertising.”
A number of major media organizations have expressed interest in participating on the platform.