By Craig Zammit

SYDNEY: Seven Media Group, Engin and TiVo Inc. today announced that the popular US digital video recorder and service, TiVo, will be coming to Australia in 2008.

For a yet undisclosed subscription fee plus the cost of hardware, Australians will be able to fast-forward advertisements, record programs from any free-to-air digital channel, pause live high definition TV and access broadband content such as video-on-demand through their TiVo boxes.

Under a mutually-exclusive agreement, Seven Media Group will spearhead the formation of the digital platform which will enable TiVo’s digital video recorder and service, including TiVo features such as SeasonPass recordings, WishList searches and user access to broadband content on their TV, to enter Australian lounge rooms within the next 12 months.

A number of major media organisations have already expressed interest in participating, with Engin announced as a pivotal distributor and supporter of TiVo in Australia.

What affect the introduction of TiVo will have on the domestic DVD recorder and PVR market remains to be seen, but Seven Media Group CEO, David Leckie, believes TiVo will become a major driving force behind the adoption of digital television.

“This association unites the strengths of free-to-air television and TiVo to deliver new digital services to the Australian consumer,” he said.

“Free-to-air television is well positioned in Australia to benefit from the TiVo service in offering viewers the chance to easily find and automatically record the programming they want, schedule their viewing time and vastly extend their overall television viewing experience.

“Through TiVo, Seven will leverage our broadcast television and publishing businesses, deliver new advertising and marketing solutions, and expand our presence in new communications platforms, as we work in partnership with Yahoo!7 and Engin.

“As a broadcaster, we are uniquely positioned to promote DVRs while simultaneously defining the future of television advertising,” said Leckie.

Through its new partnership with TiVo, Seven will benefit from TiVo’s interactive advertising capabilities, allowing the company to develop new integrated interactive advertising strategies.

“Every night, the vast majority of Australians turn to free-to-air broadcasters for their television entertainment,” said TiVo president and CEO, Tom Rogers.

“The Australian television market is on the cusp of a significant migration to digital television that will greatly expand the choices available on free-to-air television.

“We are excited to play a key role in driving this transition by partnering with the top television network in the country to establish Seven’s leadership of this transformation.

“This new partnership with Seven will utilize TiVo’s content search and discovery features, TiVo’s powerful advertising capabilities and broadband video straight to the TV set.

“This relationship demonstrates our ability to deploy the TiVo service on the digital terrestrial, or DVB-T standard, which has now been globally adopted and will represent more than 100 million homes by 2009. It demonstrates the opportunities TiVo has to work with leading broadcasters who have substantial marketing clout to drive TiVo DVR penetration by adopting our hardware and software approaches to this globally important standard,” he said.