Seven, TiVo down for deal

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The Seven Network hopes to provide a substantial boost to its digital terrestrial broadcasting platform after signing an exclusive agreement with TiVo to launch the company's DVR service to Australia's 7 million TV households in 2008.

Announcing the new partnership today, Seven said it will develop the digital terrestrial platform on which the TiVo DVR and service will operate. It will be the first free-to-air broadcaster in the market to deploy such a service.

TiVo will offer its full suite of services, including such features as SeasonPass recordings, WishList searches and viewer access to broadband content through their TV sets. It also will provide Seven with its interactive advertising capability.

Seven said it will open the platform to other broadcasters and broadband content providers.

"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," TiVo president and CEO Tom Rogers said. "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 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," he added.

Seven Media CEO David Leckie said the partnership will "vastly extend" Australians' overall TV 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 (Internet subsidiaries) Yahoo!7 and Engin," Leckie said.

Pay TV provider Foxtel is the only broadcaster in the country providing a TiVo-type service.

Its IQ-branded personal video recorder is in about 10%, or 130,000, Foxtel homes, while pay TV compatriot Austar will launch its version of the Foxtel IQ later this year.

Industry group Digital Broadcasting Australia estimated this month that about 2.5 million TV households in Australia are digital TV capable through the purchase of digital set-top boxes or integrated flat-screen TVs. Penetration of off-the-shelf DVRs is believed to be far lower.

The government recently mandated a digital terrestrial TV conversion timetable which will see analog broadcasting phased out between 2010-12.
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