BREAKING STORY: TiVo executives in the USA have confirmed that the Seven Network has pulled the pin on their Australian TiVo operation with the sacking of over 40 staff.
Launched as a competitor to Foxtel, TiVo Australia is now down to a service and support staff operation according to ChannelNews sources. A TiVo US executive said “We believe that TiVo in Australia is currently running a support operation and will not continue trading in Australia”.
Robbie Minicola the CEO of Hybrid the company that has the rights to TiVo in Australia once said “We have a word for Foxtel at TiVo “F#&8#D”. Known in the industry as “motor mouth” Minicola is today refusing to comment on what will happen to the 100,000 customers that they have in Australia.
The axing of staff and the curtailing of the TiVo operation is believed to have been made by Seven Network executives following the introduction of new HD digital channels and the emergence of new Internet content streams which was making it “harder” to sell the TiVo content offering and the high cost of the TiVo box which was due in part to the high cost of licensing software from TiVo in the USA.
Hybrid also struggled to get global movie content despite their relationship with Seven. Back in March 2009 ChannelNews speculated that the Seven Network were struggling with the TiVo operation under Minicola’s management.
At this stage all that Minicola, is saying is that the business has restructured.
In January and knowing full well that TiVo was in trouble Minicola told CNET Australia that “nothing is happening to TiVo in the Australian and New Zealand market”, and said that recent price drops were due to the strength of the Australian dollar.
“Why would the number one PVR exit the market?” Minicola said at the time. “Nothing is going on with Hybrid TV … it’s just business as usual,” she added.
Among those to have been axed is CTO Brad Wilson and head of corporate affairs Rebecca Blasina.
Hybrid TV is majority owned by the Seven Media Group with a 67 per cent stake, and New Zealand broadcaster TVNZ with 33 per cent Hybrid TV has Telecom NZ as its major ISP partner in New Zealand.
Speculation is that Fetch TV who are trying to launch their set top box operation in Australia are looking at taking over the TVo operation in Australia.
More to Follow.