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Telstra appear to be adopting a new content strategy where BigPond content is delivered direct to a TV screens, as opposed to a separate Telstra PVR similar to the T Box. The move could see Foxtel and Telstra taking the lion’s share of the IPTV market in Australia.

The T Box, which is currently being trialled in Victoria, could cost Telstra millions of dollars in upfront costs, compared with delivering a software-rich content browser and content to a new generation of IP enabled TV screens sold by the likes of LG and Samsung.

At a recent LG event, Ben Kinealy, General Manager of Video Services at Telstra Media, demonstrated the company’s latest Internet offering, which includes access to 1300 movies and TV shows.

The new BigPond software allows users to access a movie and watch it anytime over a 48 hour period.

According to Telstra, the movie is streamed to TV screens as opposed to downloaded, which makes it easy for vendors to adapt their TV offerings in Australia to accommodate the new service. It also eliminates digital rights management (DRM) issues often associated with content that is downloaded and copied onto a hard drive. With the new BigPond Movie service users will also be able to access content via a PC. 

Kinealy admits that getting content is “difficult” in Australia, but is confident that BigPond can be a major player in the distribution of Internet based IPTV services in Australia.

He has also not ruled out offering owners of a Samsung or LG TV an all-in BigPond broadband service that will enable them to receive a limited amount of streamed content for free, along with a monthly broadband service.

The new service allows users to pause and fast forward content without the need for a separate PVR, a move that some observers claim will put pressure on PVR manufacturers such as TiVo, Topfield and Beyonwiz.

Pricing for the new service will range from $3.99 to $5.99 a movie.
 

Kinealy said that the service being offered to LG is different to what will be delivered to a Samsung TV, however, he refused to elaborate on what is planned for the Samsung IPTV offering.

Earlier this month SmartHouse speculated on a deal between Foxtel and Samsung that has still not been signed. This could see Foxtel content delivered to Samsung TVs in the future.

Kinealy praised the proposed new Foxtel model, which would eliminate the need for a Foxtel iQ2 PVR. Foxtel believes that this could cut costs by up to 35%.

“The Foxtel plan is a good business model and they will take it on. Foxtel is a fantastic service and they are doing a great job in the IPTV area. We see our audience as the ones who are not Foxtel customers.” Kinealy said.

When it was put to Kinealy that the combined Telstra BigPond Movie Service and Foxtel, which is owned 50% by Telstra, would mean that the the company could end up with the lion’s share of the Australian IPTV market, he said, “Yes, it does”. 

He said that the new service was a “win-win” situation for both Telstra and the TV vendors. “The TV vendors want to sell more TVs while lifting their value proposition. We have a service provider model and advertising for the service will come from both sides”.

“We are currently building our own content delivery network which at this stage is unmetered users will pay per view”.

When asked about getting access to first run movies or overcoming the current process which sees sellers of DVD movies such as Blockbuster,  given a 30-45 day exclusive window to sell new releases prior to it being released to other potential sellers such as Foxtel or Telstra said.

“Australia is a small market, the US and Europe is bigger markets and that is their priority. There are no other issues other than size”. He said.

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