By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: The television industry is responsible for the proliferation of illegal content piracy and needs to lift its game to prevent it. That’s the message Hybrid TV (TiVo) CEO Robbee Minicola delivered at yesterday’s Get Ready for Digital TV conference.

Speaking with passion and verve, Minicola said that illegal piracy is the result of consumers not getting the content they want at the times they want. In order to reduce this – perhaps even prevent it – the industry needs to customise its content delivery to more suitable meet the end users’ needs.

In order to illustrate her view on what causes piracy, Minicola presented a schematic to attending delegates that outlined the order in which television consumers seek to watch programming. She believes potential viewers start with prime time, and then look to catch up television services, then multi-channelling and archived recordings. The fifth link in this chain is pirated copies.

Never one to shy away from promoting TiVo, Minicola said that the first four links – those that prevent piracy – can be achieved without pay TV.

“Viewers will not trawl through program guides trying to find repeat screenings at odd hours,” she said, implying that with a TiVo, consumers can archive programs, avoiding the 4am start times often associated with pay TV repetition.

Interestingly, Minicola did not bring up one of the perceived advantages of downloading illegal content, that being the reduced cost, normally nothing, of these channels. This conforms to the iTunes theory that if you provide the content legally, at a reasonable price, consumers will do the right thing.

For this to work with television programs, which cost a lot more to download than audio files, more pressure must be placed on the broadband suppliers to introduce better deals.

“We have to unite as broadcasters and content providers and go to these telcos and say, ‘Hello, what you do has to be better for the consumer’,” she said.

Addressing the question of whether this is the ideal situation for the television industry stakeholders, Minicola said, “Do we want to do this? No; do we have to do this? Absolutely”.

Meanwhile, Minicola said that TiVo currently makes up 49 per cent of all PVR sales in the category and 54 per cent of all revenue in the category. By her estimates between 85 and 160 people buy a TiVo device every day.