Australia's marketers are attempting to get their heads around the Personal Video Recorder (PVR) technology that's already disrupting the US media landscape.
Neil Shoebridge reports in The Fin today (sub required) that local cable outfit Foxtel will bring to market in June next year its first PVR. BUT, and this is a BIG but, it will turn off the function that lets people automatically delete ads.
"Foxtel will quickly change its mind when consumers demand an automatic ad-skipping function," one TV industry executive says.
"The idea of a device that chops out ads as it records TV programs will appeal to a lot of people. Yes, we are very worried."
I like that - they'll "quickly" change their mind when consumers demand it. I wonder what answer you'd get if you conducted a poll today?
But wait, there's more. The story reports PVR users will have some problems with electronic program guides too.
Unlike their US counterparts, Australian free-to-air TV networks hold the copyright to their program guides. Not surprisingly, they refuse to let PVR makers use electronic versions of the guides. As a result, the PVRs in Australia are basically machines with more storage capacity than video cassette recorders.
The Foxtel PVR will be included in the company's digital pay TV set-top box and will be integrated with Foxtel's electronic program guide, which currently includes the Nine, ABC and SBS networks. (Seven Network and Ten Network have not yet struck re-transmission agreements covering Foxtel's digital service.)
Nine, ABC and SBS will be included in the electronic program guide part of Foxtel's PVR. But other details of its PVR are under wraps as the company continues to conduct technical trials.
So right now it appears that you won't get EPG's from Seven and Ten, and time-shifting will be done according to the networks' agenda, not yours.
As a publisher I can understand the pain. But at the same time, more thought is needed around the digital/cable TV subscription model. Perhaps we're moving further down a track that's similar to that of the 'free' email providers like Yahoo and Hotmail. There are different levels of service available with or without ads based on how much you pay.