TiVo to launch in Oz on July 29

Seven joins Foxtel in PVR market

SYDNEY -- TiVo will officially launch in Australia on July 29 with the TiVo HD box, 12 months after announcing a partnership with the Seven Network to bring the personal video recorder service here and one month after pay TV rival Foxtel launched its own high-definition PVR.

Australians will be able to buy the TiVo HD PVR for AUS$695 ($667) and no subscription fee, Seven and TiVo said Tuesday.

The box will allow users to receive and record the digital and high-definition signals of each of Australia's five free-to-air networks. The box, however, won't be compatible with Australia's cable or satellite pay TV services.

The launch of TiVo, just 10 days ahead of the Beijing Olympics, of which Seven is the official broadcaster, is aimed at providing an incentive for the adoption of digital TV here.

TiVo's arrival in Australia "further strengthens free-to-air television. It's about us meeting new consumer demands for more control, more services and more involvement in the television experience," Seven Network CEO David Leckie said.

The partners have plans to extend the services available on TiVo to movies on demand and broadband TV channels later this year and additional free-to-air channels in January, when Australia's networks will each launch another two standard-definition channels, bringing the total free-to-air TV universe to 15 channels.

While Seven would not comment on TiVo sales targets, reports say the partners are aiming to sell 50,000-100,000 boxes in five years.

Figures released this week by broadcast regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority show that 42% of Australia's 7 million-plus TV households have digital TV receivers installed.

Foxtel, meanwhile, said it has sold 20,000 of its high-def iQ2 PVRs ahead of its launch last month, while its standard digital PVR, launched in 2005, is in more than 350,000 of Foxtel's 1.2 million pay TV homes.