TiVo TVNZ and Telecom = Trouble

Update for clarity: The on-demand component of TiVo is completely unusable on any ISP other than Telecom. It’s not that you have to pay for data, it’s that you can’t even get the data. I have a question currently with Telecom and other ISPs about where that data is being blocked.

Stay tuned.

Tivo ImageJust because your brand is a verb, it doesn’t mean you can charge a massive premium, and flush away a large part of your audience with provider lock-in. Yep, the exciting TiVo boxes will be available in New Zealand come November. But only if you have $900 spare (or $200 + $30/mth for 2 years). And they’ll be largely crippled unless you’re a Telecom broadband subscriber. That’s right. Unless you use Telecom broadband, you’ll be paying for bandwidth to view the program guide and any on-demand movies your TiVo won’t have a program guide, rendering it effectively useless.

If you put barriers like that in front of your potential customers, they’re just going to turn away. There’s plenty of decent Freeview DVR’s in the market, not to mention MySky.

The slightly shiny side on this – quite frankly – turd of a product release is the fact that if you are a Telecom subscriber then all your TiVo data, including locked-up DRM movies, is free.

So here we have two near-monopolies (Telecom and TVNZ), collaborating to lock-up one of the more exciting consumer electronics released in New Zealand this year. Good Times! Look for a $8m write-down from TVNZ in a couple of years when they fail to make any money whatsoever from their TiVo investment.

Update: on a re-read, I see I’m putting up a bunch of complaints with no suggestions. Here are my suggestions:

  • Lower the price of the box. I’m surprised TVNZ is planning on making money on advertising with the box and haven’t even considered loss-leading.
  • The zero-rated data is a brilliant idea, and very attractive to Telecom subscribers. How about a peering arrangement with other ISP’s (a-la Orcon’s O-zone – which you might be surprised to see TVNZ on). More options = more users = more revenue. Perhaps share the bandwidth cost in exchange for a cut of advertising.

Any other ideas?

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  1. Did anyone ever care about TiVo?

    MySky has been available for years, and in Australia they’ve got the same thing with Foxtel IQ.

    TiVo was a big deal when it first came out in the U.S., but they took too long to launch in both Australia and New Zealand, and as a result competitors launched their own devices which now provide similar (if not better) functionality for a cheaper price. TiVo launched in NZ? Meh.

  2. Last year I purchased FreeviewHD. The quality is great, but the extra programming is rubbish, so I was quite looking forward to purchasing TiVo and the associated broadband content. Will I be switching from Orcon to Telecom to do it? God no. Shame on you TiVo. You just lost another customer to Sky, which I have ordered this afternoon.

  3. i don’t get your point – telecom have zero rated the data on their own ISP — they have no control of what other ISPs do, so how can you add that up as something telecom have done wrong?

  4. Brenda I’m more concerned about Telecom using their dominant position to force a deal that disadvantages all other broadband providers. TiVo is now basically pointless if you’re not on Telecom, so people will switch if they really want TiVo.

  5. For years the industry watchers have bagged Telecom for not being innovative and gouging revenue from all telco services to the max.

    Sounds to me like they have reversed that here, providing a new and very useful service to their broadband customers (and Tivo knocks the sox off MySky BTW). And guess what? Their customers aren't being charged for it.

    Give them some credit for leading the market here guys, look past the 'Telecom always has to be the bad guy' mentality.

    I would be buying a Tivo whether or not Telecom were involved, as it happens I already have Xtra broadband so it just makes the Tivo purchase that much more useful.

  6. @ben Orcon have zero rated TVNZ On Demand downloads so I don’t see why they wouldn’t also offer zero rated TIVO data as well. I would expect TVNZ to sign on other ISP as well if they want to come onboard. It would be in their interest to get as many people as possible watching content over TIVO.

    In fact there is probably nothing stopping any ISP just offering free TIVO downlaods even without TVNZ’s involvement. I think you may have jumped the gun on this one but it would be good to hear from TVNZ directly.

  7. oh come on guys. It’s about content right. $900 bucks to get the same stuff I can get for free on freeview…don’t think so. Pay per view content. Great! But I can get much larger catalogues through several other channels so $900 bucks for the conveniece of being able to download it straight to my TV? $900 – don’t think so.

    All up mySky is easily a better option, there’s loads more content and no upfront fee if you don’t want.

  8. The on-demand features of TiVo are not just zerorated for Telecom customers, they are exclusive to Telecom customers. Even if another ISP decided it wanted to offer non-metered data for TiVo data it’s customers couldn’t access CASPA data.

    I have no inside knowledge of the TiVo/Telecom deal at all, but I imagine it goes something like this – TVNZ is not in a position to provide retail for the devices, nor does it want to get involved in consumer finance to offer the device on a simple monthly rate. Also it was very important that the TiVo come to market with a unmetered broadband option, and one that was guaranteed, not something that might go away.

    If I were in charge I would have done it very different – work with as many ISPs as possible to set up unmetered peered national data to TiVo content, and engage with national retailer (DSE, Noel Leeming, 100%, etc) to provide retail channel.

    As it is I see two failings in the Telecom partnership – Telecom has a terrible retail presence, no one goes to a Telecom store looking to buy AV equipment, unlike everyone in the TV section of a Bond & Bond. And then there’s the exclusivity – as it is, the TiVo is essentially useless without a Telecom broadband connection (certainly not worth $900), if the lockout for other ISPs weren’t in place, at least users could decide if they wanted to pay for that data.

  9. Thanks for the clarification Dylan. I’m waiting for a reply from Telecom (and a couple of other ISPs) about where the CASPA data is being blocked.

  10. One thing that will help TiVo die is the lousy service by their helpdesk. I have a TiVo remote control that clearly needs fixing or replacing. The helpdesk is coming back with all sorts of rubish – none of which helps resolve the problem. The remote is barely useable and with TiVo so complicated already, I dare not try to train any of my family to use it till it is fixed.

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