Monday, November 30, 2009

TV and broadband

Together with the announcement that the Tasmanian government will be distributing TiVOs in Tassie, comes news that the TiVO in Oz will be bigger and come with an online content service "caspa". (see, lifehacker, Gizmodo, and itWire)

But the question is whether this is all a little too little and too late. Firstly US figures as Gizmodo reports show the TiVO in decline. There are other choices now built around Windows and Microsoft Media Centre, together with open PC architecture which means the customer chooses their hard disk size and be free to move their content around. The one advantage of TiVO was the EPG but there are now plenty of on-line EPGs basically built as Wiki's.

The really big part of TiVO though is the creation of caspa (or Caspa) - which is a video rental model (7-14 days to start, 48 hours to watch once started) that includes movies from blockbuster, TV content from major studios, and free music videos from BanditFM plus concert rentals.

With all these online style services you get the privacy concerns raised. I don't think TiVO creates anything new here. That article also talked about the trials and tribulations of managing distribution of the iVO.

Meanwhile TiVO is also going to be up against the Telstra T-Box. This hooks up with the Bigpond TV and movie download service.

Ultimately the "smarts" of TiVO are meant to be in the digital rights management side, it is about buying the right to watch not the right to own a copy of all the 1s and 0s.

Interestingly there is no announcement from Seven about using this platform for its own "Catch Up" TV service. "Catch Up" TV is where the shows shown on FTA are available free online for a period - two weeks in the case of the leader in this field the ABC iView. The ABC has now created the ability for a PS3 to be an iView box.

For both TiVo and iView a particular challenge is the pricing model for broadband. Because the variable cost of international capacity is a relatively high proportion Australia has a broadband pricing structure that includes the highly rational concept of download limits and/or fees. This is a rational pricing structure for anything where there is common capacity shared between users. The challenge is who should pay in the case of local content. TiVO and IView have been separately negotiating "un metered" propositions with some ISPs, which Telstra rejects.

There appear to be two logical points for strategising here. The first is whether or not the ABC, TiVO and the Freeview collective should be joining forces on the un-metering debate. This may require creating some "peering points" in popular peering exchanges around Australia and negotiating collectively (and sharing common costs in content distribution and storage). It would also make sense to create one "catch-up TV" platform.

he second point is how all this changes with the NBN. The PVR set-top box as a centre for both FTA and VOD gets a big boost from the fact that most broadband connections can't support real time video downloading...that is the store and view model makes sense rather than the point-click-watch model. The NBN changes all that with a dedicated 10Mbps from home to "exchange". In that model there is no need to copy the movie from the central store to the local device. Indeed there is no need to have the PVR for FTA if the FTA is distributed from a datacasting store in the exchange - because I can pause MY feed without pausing everyone else's.

Ultimately though the latter is about a dedicated IPTV service as part of the NBN not just an "over the top" VOD through internet model. The Tasmanian announcement was really just another ISP deal deal for TiVO - to TasCOLT customers as part of NBn hype. It is not a model of video over the NBN.

No comments: