TiVo responds to Foxtel challenge: ‘nice work, but we’re better’

Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: On the day after Foxtel announced 30 new channels and a download service, TiVo CEO Robbee Minicola has done two interesting things: she’s applauded Foxtel for their innovation and explained why TiVo’s download service is better.

In an interview with Current.com.au this afternoon, we asked the affable boss of Channel 7’s media centre if she felt threatened by Foxtel’s significant announcement.

“No, I don’t,” she replied. “I think it’s a fantastic thing that Foxtel is doing for their customers. What they’re doing is probably a wise idea, that instead of dropping the price they’re just trying to add more value for the same price.”

When asked how Foxtel’s new download service compared to TiVo’s more established product, Minicola said it was like comparing an apple to a pear. When pressed for comment, she not only highlighted that TiVo’s download service was in partnership with ISPs, hence reducing cost, but also that the content itself extractable and portable, something that Foxtel is not offering at launch.

“With our service, the TiVo media device allows you to record all the free-to-air and store it on your Tivo. When you go online, you can buy a software key from us, and that software key allows you to take the free-to-air content off the TiVo and transfer it to your PC or your laptop to view, or compress it for your iPhone or PSP.

“It also allows you to take all your video files, all your movie files and music and transfer them up into the television to view in the living room.”

Minicola said this software was part of the Home Networking Package, and costs $199.

Regardless of whose content download service is best, Minicola doesn’t believe it will impact TiVo’s business – she thinks people don’t rush out to commit to plans or new purchases based on downloadable content alone.

“From our perspective, the way we look at it, people are thinking, ‘Is it analogue or digital? I’ve got to get out of analogue and into digital with the switchover’, so a Tivo is one solution, or a new TV is another solution.

“People are starting to understand they can get more than just music online: they can access movies online, and the proposition of movies downloaded to your television is a fantastic thing, but I don’t think people get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and say, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to download a broadband movie’.

“I honestly believe that what Foxtel has is a good package for people that a willing to subscribe to a service and pay out $100 a month and I think what we’ve got is a good package which gets you from analogue to digital…but I don’t think the average consumer says, ‘I can download now so I’m going to get a Tivo,’ or, ‘I can download now so I’m going to get Foxtel’.”

TiVo is distributed in Australia by Hybrid Television Services, which is owned largely by Channel 7. The licensee is referred to as ‘TiVo’ solely for brevity.

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