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iiNet launches Internet-based IPTV in Australia

There are an increasing number of events that seem to justify the pay-TV companies’ fear that the Internet will become consumers’ mainline to entertai

By PETER WHITE

Published: 18 November, 2010

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There are an increasing number of events that seem to justify the pay-TV companies’ fear that the Internet will become consumers’ mainline to entertainment and information.

Australian broadband service provider iiNET has completed five months of testing FetchTV with about 1,000 households and is ready for a full launch to all its broadband subscribers, according to CTO Greg Bader in an article in the Australian. iiNet is a direct competitor to the country’s two largest pay-TV services Foxtel and Austar, which together have about 30% of Australian TV households as subscribers.

FetchTV’s goal is to make its TV service available to every broadband subscriber in the country. It’s unlikely to sign up the incumbent telco and the nation’s largest broadband service Telstra, which has almost 2.5 million broadband subscribers and its own broadband-based set top called T-Box which France-based Netgem makes. Two smaller broadband service providers, Adam Internet and Internode, have agreed to offer FetchTV. However, none of the three largest broadband services have signed on to offer FetchTV: Telstra, TPG and Optus. iiNet will e-mail and run TV ads to notify its broadband subscribers about FetchTV.

FetchTV CEO Scott Lorson told the publication, "We believe that we will see significant uptake as awareness grows and people understand the proposition."

FetchTV has content deals with Warner Bros, Disney Universal and Foxtel for on-demand movies and linear channels.

Foxtel is 50% owned by Telstra and 25% owned by both News Corp’s News Limited, publisher of The Australian, and Consolidated Media Holdings. iiNet will offer both free and subscription TV channels plus video-on-demand over the Net.

FetchTV allows subscribers to watch Internet-delivered TV shows and movies — plus Web-based videos including catch up TV on any TV set that’s connected to it.

The FetchTV box supports HD and 3D video, DVR functions, online gaming and social networking.

It has a tuner to receive Freeview free-over-the-air TV broadcasts and uses the Net to access more TV shows, movies, documentaries, children’s programs and pay-per-view for newly released movies.

Other content sources include: Discovery Networks, National Geographic, MTV Networks, Fox International Channels, E! Entertainment, BBC World News, CNBC, ABC, Roadshow Entertainment, Disney Media Distribution, MGM, and Lionsgate. There’ll also be foreign language channels.

iiNet CEO Michael Malone has said FetchTV will "change the face of Australian television forever." Rival Foxtel has said it will offer a broadband TV service through its set top boxes later this year. FetchTV was developed "to satisfy the entertainment needs" of the 70% of Australians who do not subscribe to pay-TV, according to FetchTV CEI Scott Lorson. The Australian FetchTV has no connection to the FetchTV offered in the UK by IP Vision.

Bader calls the Australian Fetch TV "essentially the latest and greatest DVR." It has a Broadcom 7413 processer, a 750 GB hard drive and three digital tuners. It gets 20 linear channels via multicast, subscription and pay-per-view movie packages plus games and apps.

Billionaire T Ananda Krishnan, who controls the Astro All Asia Networks subscription-television group in Malaysia, owns 40% of FetchTV.

Forbes magazine has called Krishnan "Southeast Asia’s richest man" and said he was worth US$7 billion.

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