Australia’s ABC launches online video destination

3 12 2007

Following the trend from major TV broadcasters around the world to launch branded video players, Australian public service net the ABC has today unveiled ABC Now.


The service aggregates national and local TV, radio and news content from the ABC into a single downloadable player application. The PC version, built with Flash 8 and MProjector, has just been released in Beta, with a Mac version to follow “soon”.

Unlike equivalent services, such as the BBC iPlayer, ABC Now’s initial content offer is far less ambitious: alongside news, weather and sport bulletins the roster of popular TV shows features home-grown productions, such as The 7.30 Report, At the Movies, The Cook and the Chef, Gardening Australia, Enough Rope, Good Game, Insiders, Media Watch and The New Inventors.

But ABC Now does also include a selection of vodcasts – something BBC iPlayer doesn’t.

In a final twist of irony, offering a broader selection of programmes the ABC shows is doubtless down to the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, which licenses many of the corporation’s most popular shows and formats to the Aussie PSB.

TiVo’s prospects down under

19 08 2007

Following its misadventure in the U.K. in the early 1990s (due, no doubt, to its decision to get in to bed with NewsCorp.-owned BSkyB), TiVo spent the following few years focusing on its key U.S. business.

It’s only in the last couple of years that TiVo has, once again, spread its tenticles further afield: to China and, more recently, Australia.

Not much has been heard of the China (or was it just Taiwan) deal since 2005 which, for a company which has so effectively timed press announcements of any kind to coincide with results reporting, likely means no news is… no news.

But the Oz deal is generating an increasing amount of press, not least this spoiler piece, coincidentally from a paper owned by NewsCorp., which also happens to own the majority interest in pay TV platform Foxtel and offer its own DVR product.

Perhaps a reaction to other reports last week that TiVo has bagged charter advertising partnerships with 20 companies, each paying AU $1 million (US $792,517) each to learn more about what makes ad-skippers tick.

Australian TV and its liberal sprinkling of ads (most usually with very low production values) throughout programmes makes it ripe for DVRs.

Yet, paradoxically, many of its free-to-air broadcasters have actively suppressed the emergence of DVRs through some strange anomaly which allows them to retain copyright over listings information and, thus, strangling EPGs which are the lifeblood of DVRs.

The copyright ruling was successfully challenged in an Australian court earlier this month

But it’s already an overcrowded market: TiVo will be launching against Foxtel’s already-established DVR, domestic company ICE TV — which, like TiVo, offers a platform-agnostic product — and, according to other speculation, possibly a DVR-enabled Sony PlayStation 3 too. 

One to watch…