This is an exciting day. Tivo is coming to Australia in 2008. There is even a local website. And who do we need to thank; none other than Channel 7. From the looks of it, it is a Series 3 which means that we will likely have HD recording. It also will network in the house, likely have a ‘to go’ option and will stream video from the Internet.
What does Tivo mean for consumers? I am in a rare household that has both a Tivo and a Foxtel IQ. The Tivo is an old one but allows you to record FTA and cable. It is far superior to IQ. Why? It is the little things that matter. Tivo is easier to program (you can even do it while watching TV), has a more intuitive and sensible way of fast forwarding and can even find programs based on your viewing tastes. IQ is positively clunky and only has the benefit of two tuners (something new Tivos sport). Both can be programmed remotely but for IQ not if you want to watch Seven or Ten. Indeed, for those IQ is useless. Tivo is the superior product by far.
From the press release it looks like you wont be able to (officially) record cable TV. So that is a real point of distinction with the US product. But it is the real opportunity for Seven.
You might have thought that Seven were crazy promoting a product that would skip their own ads. However, those products are out there and are being taken up rapidly. Given that inevitability, what better insurance than to take a stake in the product most likely to lead the market.
What is more, without cable, it is a direct threat to cable. If you have Tivo and you can’t record Foxtel, you will likely not buy or continue to buy Foxtel. Why? Tivo let’s you watch better quality programs from FTA and that will fill your time. No need for cable. So my prediction is that a sensible Foxtel will come to the negotiating table with Seven sooner rather than later.
And there is a final thing. Seven will have some of the best viewing data in the business. It will know which ads watched and which are skipped. It will know this for all free to air stations. If information is power, Seven is going to grab it.
And the beauty of all this game playing is that the consumer will be the winner.