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Tuesday, 09 March 2010 18:07

Hybrid TV looks beyond the TiVo to VoD and interactive services

Hybrid Television Services, the Seven subsidiary that distributes the TiVo in Australia, is gearing up to provide video on demand and interactive services.

The company has announced a restructure that it says is designed to support this expansion of its business. It has created a new position, that of chief sales officer, which has been filled by Peter Sharp, formerly a business development manager with Derni Retail, and promoted a number of general managers.

In addition to maintaining and growing the TiVo business, Sharp will be responsible for developing additional opportunities to exploit the CASPA platform across widget/Internet-enabled televisions, (Multi-media Interface Devices), games consoles and the like. It was launched last November and its Hybrid TV's chief means of getting into the VoD market.

CASPA is a Hybrid TV service that delivers movies and other video content to TiVo devices over a broadband Internet connection.

At launch CASPA content was offered download quota free by four ISPs: Internode, iiNet, iPrimus and Adam Internet. These have since been joined by Apex Internet.

Hybrid TV's CEO Robbee Minicola explained Hybrid TV's plans for CASPA to iTWire's ExchangeDaily newsletter at the launch last November. She said that the company's ambition was for much of the content on CASPA to be advertising funded and for the service to be available direct to TVs without the need for a TiVo, and that widgets would be the key to this strategy.


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The Widget Television concept was launched by Yahoo! and Intel in August 2008 as an evolution of Yahoo!'s confabulator-based PC widgets. The widgets appear as a series of icons on the bottom of the TV screen giving access to a range of services, and rely on the TV having access to a broadband connection, as well as the ability to support the widgets.

According to Minicola "Every TV manufacturer will get widget partnerships and will have WiFi capability so that when first installed it will automatically seek out the home WiFi network and request the owner to put in their password." However at that time Yahoo! had announced Widget partnerships only with LG, Sony, Samsung and Vizio (a US HDTV maker).

Minicola said that Hybrid TV intended for advertising to be the funding source for as much CASPA content as possible. "Our service starts with pay-per-view and free and from April it will be pay-per-view and advertising funded. That will be our unique selling point. When you invest in a TiVo and you invest in CASPA all access to on-demand will not be through your wallet, it will be through your relationship with the advertisers."

However, she added, "This will never be the case for movies because the studios are very clear about advertising around VoD, but there is a lot of interest from advertisers in getting their message across on a VoD platform."


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Hybrid TV's ambitions for CASPA do not, however, extend to the PC screen. Minicola said "Our business model is not about delivering content to PCs it's about driving content and services on the TV. All our content is high resolution, SD or in the future HD, with surround sound so we are focussing very much on delivering content through the television and controlling it through the TV remote. There are a lot of people playing around in the PC space. We believe the winning one will be the one that is free and is easiest to use."

In addition to Sharp's appointment, Michael Glendinning, formerly the GM of Finance, has been made COO; Brad Wilson, formerly the GM of content and services is now the CTO and Tim Boys, formerly the GM of marketing, is now the chief marketing officer. Minicola continues in he role as CEO.

The leadership team also includes Rebecca Blasina, head of corporate affairs who leads all PR activity and the Hybrid SmartStreet Project being undertaken in Tasmania in conjunction with the Tasmanian Government to explore the consumer demand side of high speed broadband adoption and the content and services associated with such adoption.


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