EXCLUSIVE: Hybrid TV’s chief executive Robbee Minicola said that by late 2010 their CASPA video on demand service will have FREE advertiser funded pay per view TV shows and movies on TiVO Australia PVRs and other devices, in a one-on-one interview with Rambling Thoughts Blog late last week.
EDITOR: As of mid-November TiVo Australia was clearly running behind schedule with this plan as stage 2 hadn’t launched yet. However they did drop the price of a TiVo box from $699 to $499 which is clearly a move to increase their user base which makes it easier to do video content deals for CASPA.
Hybrid TV’s Plans To Dominate Australian Video on Demand Market
CASPA (Content And Services Platform Asia) is a video and music on demand system owned outright by Hybrid TV and currently available as a service from Hybrid TV’s TiVo Australia digital TV PVR and planned to be integrated into TV devices from other manufacturers like Samsung in the near future.
In a clear reference to soon to be launched services such as Telstra’s T-Box and Fetch TV’s subscription IPTV service via broadband Minicola emphasised that “people are fundamentally used to sitting in their lounge room and not having their wallet pick pocketed every time they get entertainment. Companies relying on pay-per-view will never get a sustainable ARPU [average revenue per user] because customer behavior will not change”.
Hybrid TV doesn’t rate digital TV PVR’s from Beyonwiz and Topfield as a threat since they’re “not on the same battlefield” because while they are “fantastic products with the rudiments of DVR … the UI, EPG and the broadband proposition doesn’t match us [TiVo/CASPA]”.
“There will be a new dawn when TV on demand can be advertiser funded and that’s why the 7 Media Group is supporting the Hybrid TV strategy because it underpins the basis of the trifecta that 7 is successful because of … the consumer, the advertiser and aggregator of content. Only difference is that TV model is linear and CASPA model is on demand”.
Minicola outlined Hybrid TV’s plans for CASPA as a multi-phase process:
Phase 1 – 12 Advertiser Sponsored Genres/Channels (July 2010)
CASPA currently has 4 TV genres (Drama, Comedy, Doco and Kids) which will be increased to 12 TV genres. Each genre will be sponsored by 1 sponsor for 12 months.
Hybrid TV is in final negotiations with an agency whose clients will have the exclusive rights to buy sponsorship rights for a branded CASPA channel/genre. Minicola anticipates that “advertiser funded TV genres will go live from July.”
Mincicola explained that the aim of this phase was to help “us buy more content … we went first for all the big studios which was the biggest cost. But now we want to backfill with classic movies, foreign films, documentaries, animation which aren’t quite as expensive but still require millions of dollars. So we’re going to traffic the money from the TV sponsorship into building a very robust portfolio of content”.
Phase 2 – Advertiser funded Pay Per View TV Episodes (September 2010)
From September the CASPA TV content will be sponsored whereby you can pay eg: $1.95 for an episode or choose to make XYZ brand pay instead.
XYZ brand is then the sole advertiser during that program and if you choose this option you’ll be forced to watch several unskippable ads during the show which can’t be fast forwarded.
Phase 3 – Advertiser funded Pay Per View Movies (Christmas 2010)
The third stage is advertiser funded CASPA per view movies which would have similar unskippable ads during the movie viewing experience which can’t be fast forwarded.
Hybrid TV aims to have this service launched by Christmas but this date might slip.
These plans are very interesting because TiVo Australia customers have their TiVo PVR connected to broadband internet access and they will all get access to the new advertiser funded pay per view TV and movies from day one when the service is launched.
To the best of my knowledge all the other planned video on demand services which will be launched this year in Australia have at best, a mixture of free and paid for content. This ad funded model proposed by Hybrid TV’s CASPA service is unique in that it won’t require customers to pay per view if they choose to watch some ads in return for free content.
To date the response to CASPA from Australian customers has been mixed with many complaining that there is no search functionality and the interface is slow and kludgey. Minicola said that this feedback has been considered and there will be some search functionality added as well as a slight improvement to the CASPA interface.
As a TiVo customer myself, I will report back here when I’ve tried the ad-funded pay per view TV and movie services to tell you what the user experience is like versus watching TV/Movies via Free to air digital TV, DIVX files and DVD/Bluray.
PS since Hybrid TV is part owned by TV NZ I would anticipate the same free ad-funded pay per view TV and movie services will be available for New Zealand TiVo customers and owners of CASPA integrated devices.