Pay TV sales company Multi Channel Network has cast doubt on the future of the Seven Media digital video-recording platform TiVo according to a story in the Australian newspaper.

In an interview with Lara Sinclair of the Australian at ( http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22272370-7582,00.html)  Rob Leach, head of MCN’s interactive television division and formerly of British pay-TV company BSkyB, said TiVo had “bombed” in Britain after proving to be “a difficult product to market” partly due to high set-top box costs.

The comments come after media buyers denied a report last week that 20 advertisers had paid $1 million to participate in interactive advertising trials on the TiVo platform.

According to Sinclair “No advertisers have put any money down for TiVo at all; that’s what we’re told by Seven,” said a source at the Mitchell & Partners media buying agency, which is one of Australia’s biggest. “There’s no offer out there as yet.”

Mr Leach sought to allay concerns about ad-skipping during a digital advertising seminar held by media agency MindShare earlier this month. He said the May announcement that TiVo would launch in Australia early next year raised more questions than it answered.


“I’m unconvinced TiVo will launch in Australia, despite Channel Seven’s announcement,” Mr Leach said.

“(BSkyB) had a real policy of acquire or embrace. When TiVo came to Britain, Sky marketed TiVo, and — whether deliberately or accidentally — it bombed, and TiVo is not sustained in Britain at all any more,” he said.

In both markets, TiVo is a competitor to the pay-TV companies’ own digital video-recording (DVR) platforms. In Australia, Mr Leach helps advertisers to devise interactive advertising for Foxtel’s digital platform and the Foxtel iQ DVR.

Pressure is building on Seven and TiVo to release more details after they refused to confirm set-top box or subscription costs while announcing the venture in May.

Seven spokesman Simon Francis would not elaborate earlier this month, but said the Beijing Olympic Games, which kick off in August next year, would be a key driver of TiVo take-up.

Mr Leach said the enduring questions about TiVo were how much it would cost; whether it had an EPG — the program that enables viewers to navigate and record television programs on DVRs more easily; whether there would be additional content; and whether Australia’s current broadband structure was good enough to support it.

“A TiVo without an EPG is useless,” Mr Leach said. “Is the broadband structure good enough — because without broadband, TiVo does nothing new.”

Yahoo7 chief executive Ian Smith, who also spoke at the MindShare presentation, said TiVo would launch, would be successful, and would give viewers access to additional Yahoo7 content.

“The reason that TiVo will be such an outrageous success will be partly because of the (TiVo) brand,” Mr Smith said.


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