An article in The Australian entitled “TiVo won’t succeed, says pay-TV exec” contains a lot of doom and gloom comments about the planned TiVo launch in Australia in 2008:
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.
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.”
Oh, sounds bad for TiVo, doesn’t it? And who is the aptly named Mr. Leach? He is Rob Leach, head of Multi Channel Network, a Pay-TV sales company – and a vendor for Foxtel, competitor to Seven Network, the company bringing TiVo to Australia!
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.
The Foxtel iQ DVR is basically the only commercial DVR service currently available down under. And Foxtel is understandably worried about the coming launch of TiVo as a competitor in the market. So what you have here is someone who works for a company employed by Foxtel to help sell their DVR spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) about TiVo before it launches. And doing so with some, frankly, underhanded tactics – such as comparing it to the UK launch of TiVo seven or so years ago:
“(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.
I’m not sure what ‘sustained’ is supposed to mean – because the UK TiVos are still supported and work just as they always did. It is true that TiVo is not currently sold in the UK, but TiVo was partnered with BSkyB with Thomson as their hardware vendor, and it wasn’t TiVo that pulled out of the partnership. And, in any case, comparing today’s TiVo platform with the early Series1 platform is idiotic. Today’s platform is much less expensive yet does vastly more – has more storage, more performance, and quite a bit more features. The UK boxes ran software roughly the same as the US 2.0 software – a far cry from what we have today and what has been announced for the Australian release. They’re almost two different products.
Oh, yeah, I should mention that The Australian is owned by News Limited – which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. By sheer coincidence, it just so happens that News Corp has a 25% stake in Foxtel (and a 39% stake in BSkyB). I’m sure that has nothing to do with the slant of this story. There is no way an article in News Corp’s The Australian would ever deliberately spread FUD about a pending competitor to News Corp’s Foxtel. It is just one of those funny little things.
Yeah – the entire article is the worst kind of unsubstantiated insinuation.
Keeping the FUD train rolling, a blog at The Sydney Morning Herald has pounced on even less and spun it into a long entry of paranoia entitled: “Will Seven castrate TiVo?” The gist is that it is possible that Seven Network could remove the 30-second skip back door we enjoy in the states, slow down fast-forward over ads – or even block it entirely! Yes, all of these things are possible – but a lot of things are possible. There hasn’t been any reason to believe any of these are probable. Save the worry and paranoia until there is something to worry about. The whole blog entry is designed to stir up controversy and start people talking about nothing – and that’s how stupid rumors get started.
In case it isn’t clear, the subject line of this post is dripping with sarcasm.