Australians to get high-def TiVo – but no ad skipping

Well, this is a good news, bad news situation. According to iTWire, the Australian TiVo due for release in early 2008 will be based on the TiVo HD recently released in the US. No big surprise there, I was expecting that the TiVo HD would be the reference platform for any new boxes developed in the immediate future. However, there is also this:

Australians won’t enjoy the ad-skipping features found in US TiVo, confirms Phil Dobbie – chief marketing officer of engin, an Australian consumer VoIP provider part owned by the Seven television network. Seven will sell TiVo in Australia next year through engin, to be available before the Beijing Olympics in August.

“Australians will be able to fast forward through ads, but not totally skip. It will be a fast scan – you should be able to get through an ad break in 30 seconds,” Dobbie says.

Now, I’m not sure exactly what they mean. The US TiVos don’t have any real ‘ad-skipping features’. The closest thing I can think of is the not-so-secret 30-second skip back-door code. Other than that, US users simply have fast-forward – as apparently the Australians will have. So this could mean that the Australian software will disable the 30-second skip back-door – or it might just be meaningless hot air referring to non-existent ‘ad-skipping features’. Though I tend to think it means the former.

They do confirm that the Australian units, like the US model, will be able to use a WiFi adapter for broadband connectivity, in addition to the built-in Ethernet port. Unlike the US model, the Australian model will not work with cable television – just DVB-T broadcasts. Seven is “still wavering” on the size of the hard drive. (The US TiVo HD has 160GB.) Just as US units can have recordings scheduled from and Yahoo! TV, the Australian units will support scheduling recordings from and Yahoo! Australia. Australian pricing has yet to be finalized, according to Dobbie:

“I think economies of scale mean it will probably be a little bit higher here, but we’ll look at the market when we launch. It isn’t the intention that it will be priced at a premium, we do intend that it will be comparable with other PVRs.”

Good news on the whole.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • HDTiVo

    If the quote is accurate, he specifically refers to US abilities that won’t be in Australia, so I’d interpret that as 30-sec skip and maybe… some way to limit to 1FF (ie. about 3x) ????

    On the other hand, its a marketing guy, so he might just not have any idea what he’s talking about. ;)

    I don’t see much chance for significant sales or revenue to TiVo out of this. Monkeying with FF/30sec skip can only hurt.

  • megazone

    If they really messed with FF I think that would be an issue, but 30-second skip not so much. Keep in mind this is a market without real competition. Right now the Foxtel iQ is the main DVR platform available – and only to Foxtel subscribers. I’m not sure if that box has any 30-second-skip-like feature, but I haven’t heard of any. There are some other 3rd party boxes planning to enter the market now that guide data is available, but they don’t have the backing TiVo does from Seven, Engin, and Yahoo! Australia – let alone the TiVo brand.

    Even in the US, many – I believe most – TiVo users don’t even know about the 30ss code. Regularly I get someone asking what it is when I mention it online. It isn’t in any of the documentation or official materials, and the vast majority of users aren’t active in the online forums to learn it. People don’t miss what they don’t know they could’ve had – and most, nearly all, of the consumers in the Australian market aren’t expecting 30ss.

    And if the competition starts adding features like that – TiVo can always add it in an update.

  • HDTiVo

    That’s about right as to the importance of the 30s skip and FF.

  • Matt

    I know this is kind of late, but anyway…

    There are other PVR options in Australia, have been for years, it’s all just standard DVB-T here. Nothing as polished as TiVo but ad-skipping functions are pretty much the norm. My Topfield TF5000PVRt, for example, does a 3-minute skip, a 30-second skip, and a 10-second reverse-skip.

    EPG has been available for a long time too, you’ve just had to go to a third party (e.g., IceTV) to get it. What’s new is the networks broadcasting more than now/next.

    As to what they’ll be disabling, I’d assume any sort of skip function will be out. This cites x60 as the limit the networks are willing to accept.

    We want to replace our aging Topfield but will wait and see just how badly Seven hobbles TiVo before we do anything.