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TiVo to offer free-to-air catch-up in 2009

TiVo is planning to offer video-on-demand (VoD) services with content from all the local free-to-air broadcasters by the end of 2009.

Updated TiVo is planning to offer video-on-demand (VoD) services with content from all the local free-to-air broadcasters by the end of 2009.

Hybrid TV CEO Robbee Minicola told CNET Australia that she is in negotiations with the local broadcasters to offer "catch-up" and "archive" services via her company's TiVo box, at the Get Ready for Digital conference in Sydney yesterday.

"I'd say we're going to start trickling TV content this year, and all going well and if we can get consensus we'd like to get some serious TV services rolling next year," Minicola said.

Once it's underway she planned to have 80 per cent of content as ad funded and 20 per cent as pay-per-view, said Minicola.

She said the advertising model would be a matter of trial-and-error, and could consist of either "topping and tailing" or providing an intermission.

Minicola said VoD services, in conjunction with Freeview, would mean an end to pay television.

"I'll be the first to say to you that subscription television is dead. It is dead."

However, Debra Richards, head of pay TV body ASTRA said that they were already in the VoD business and well placed to offer equivalent, competitive services.

"We've always taken the view that we deliver content on whatever platform is available and that we can get into," Richards said.

According to Minicola, all broadcasters needed to adapt or be left behind in the wake of user-generated content and the threat of piracy. "In the past we used to be able to force-feed content to the masses, because you know what? We owned the microphone. But now, the consumer has their own microphone. They have it on Twitter. They have it on YouTube," she said.

TiVo's VoD service would compete with services like Channel Nine's Catch-Up TV and ABC's iView, as well as traditional TV-on-DVD sales, but would be available via the TiVo box.

TiVo came under fire several weeks ago when it made its Home Networking Kit available online for an AU$199 price tag instead of the "tens of dollars" promised.

Minicola said TiVo will now extend the AU$99 upgrade offer until the 30th of April as a sign of goodwill.

She said the company learned that it should always put the needs of the customer first as a result of the outcry.