Freeview, Xbox, ondemand TV & the web

OK here’s another news item on these issues, but not having a laptop, broadband, wifi, or xbox, some of this article confuses me.

It seems a pity that Prime won’t be part of freeview, and the amount of set top boxes in the pipeline makes me wonder if it’s best to wait a while to buy into anything. maybe better to wait to see how everything shakes down first.

And this article also mentions throng – msut mean Tui’s review of TVNZ ondemand service:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/topic/story.cfm?c_id=339&objectid=10427631

Peter Griffin: Exciting do-it-yourself alternatives to pay TV5:00AM Thursday March 08, 2007By Peter Griffin

It’s based on obsolete technology and won’t deliver much more than what’s available now, but I’m excited all the same about the arrival of Freeview. That’s because it’s aimed squarely at people like me. I’m not a Sky subscriber.

Like many people living in Wellington, I have fuzzy television reception. best of all, the previous occupants of my house were Sky subscribers, so I can plug a Freeview box into the wall and use that same dish to cheaply solve my reception problems. Sounds like a good deal.

If TVNZ can come up with a reasonable 24-hour news channel and feature some interesting content on their new TVNZ3 channel, I’ll be sticking with free-to-air TV. That doesn’t mean I’m not tempted by the dozens of channels Sky has on offer. I really miss the History Channel, Discovery, CNN and the BBC.

But this year will see a proliferation of the entertainment options available to us in the living room, making a mix of free-to-air TV and emerging video-on-demand type services potentially compelling alternatives to a pay TV subscription.

I already use the Wi-Fi connection on my Xbox360 console in the lounge to receive video streamed from the computer in my bedroom.

Microsoft launched movie and TV series downloads through its Xbox Live platform last year and in January unveiled its IPTV (internet protocol television) play, which will deliver numerous TV channels to Xbox consoles via the user’s broadband connections.

Microsoft has regional ambitions for IPTV which could see it partner new Zealand content providers to offer a video-on-demand service.

A logical partner would be TVNZ, which this month launches its own video-on-demand service allowing you to pay with your credit card to download programmes which are playable for up to seven days after download. a good preview of how the system will work is available at www.throng.co.nz.

Throw into the mix the PlayStation 3, which lands here on March 23 and, like the Xbox360, comes fitted with an ethernet port to connect you to the internet. the PS3 has its own online platform, which at this stage allows mainly for downloads of movie trailers and arcade games.

But Sony is a big player in the film and TV space, and with its stated aim of making the PS3 the digital hub of the living room is likely to move swiftly to make an IPTV or video-on-demand play as well as offering movies on Blu-ray disc in the high-definition format.

That internet browser included with the PS3 could also serve quite well to play on your TV screen content from the likes of YouTube, which has just struck a content deal with the BBC, and maybe from Joost, the new peer-to-peer internet TV service being developed by the guys behind Kazaa and Skype. There’s enough going on among internet players to make do-it-yourself TV realistic.

Add to the mix internet provider Orcon’s IPTV, internet and phone bundle to be released by mid-year, the movie download tie-up that the Seven Network brings to the new YahooXtra website partnership with Telecom and Sky’s own planned IPTV service, and the entertainment options become even more numerous.

What it comes down to is making the choice between paying one fee for a range of channels Sky thinks you like or going online to pick and choose your content from various sources and relying on Freeview as your bog standard TV platform.

Such alternatives to straight pay-TV services are already the norm for Americans, who have the benefit of being connected to high-speed cable networks that make playing video in real time and downloading movies fairly painless.

The poor state of residential broadband here, the data download caps on low and mid-priced internet plans and the low penetration of flat-screen TVs mean Sky’s decoder will remain the dominant gateway into the lounge for at least the next two years.

But getting back to Freeview. What would make it an even more convincing purchase would be the inclusion in the line-up of Prime TV, the free-to-air channel Sky bought last year for $30 million. I can barely see Prime because my reception is so bad, but I love top Gear and a few other Prime programmes.

Sky hasn’t ruled out joining the Freeview camp, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely. Adding Prime would make Freeview just that bit too attractive and could lead a good number of Sky customers to cancel their subscriptions, knowing that they’ll be able to use the dish already on their roof to pick up Freeview.

Sky is already a bit of an anomaly as a pay TV operator that owns a free-to-air channel.

In Britain, Sky’s channels are available on the similar but unrelated Freeview platform available there. but the satellite TV operator says it will remove its Sky Three, Sky News and Sky Sports News channels from Freeview and create its own terrestrial pay TV service – adding yet another set-top box to the mix. We’ll all have some box buying decisions to make in the near future.

For me it will be a Freeview box to go along with my Xbox 360, with internet downloads to my computer filling in the gaps

Freeview, Xbox, ondemand TV & the web


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