Australian broadcaster Seven West Media eyes hybrid IPTV

Australian broadcaster Seven West Media plans to create a "broadcast to broadband" operation next year, leveraging IPTV technology and the country's national broadband network to deliver its over-the-air service over the Internet.

The concept would supposedly follow the hybrid broadcast-broadband TV (HbbTV) model now used in Europe and would require an Internet-enabled set-top box.

According to a story in The Register, Seven West Media told investors that it is adding an IPTV model to its distribution agenda. Speculation is that ad-supported broadcasts will be part of the mix and that using the Internet will help support targeted and personalized advertising, although the broadcaster did not flesh out any of the details.

Tim Worner, Seven West Media's CEO, cited the "inexorable rise of the individual" as changing the way people consume TV. This, he said, led his company to change the way it delivers television.

The idea of cross-breeding broadcast and broadband was not universally welcomed down under, where at least one critic, Adam Turner of Hydrapinion, questioned some of the ingredients of the idea--particularly adding another set-top box to the mix when the signals are available over-the-air without any such device.

"Viewers are already suffering from set-top box fatigue yet Seven expects us to buy another box to access its own service," Turner wrote. "It would need to be an all-singing, all-dancing box to win people over, rather than a one-trick pony."

Even the idea of combining broadcast and broadband is not new, wrote Turner, noting that "Australia's free-to-air networks have been kicking around hybrid TV ideas for more than a decade."

Seven, he added, "has missed the boat."

On the other hand, Seven, like broadcasters throughout the world, needs to change its delivery model to better tap a consumer base that demands not just downloaded entertainment but the ability to interact with it, as Turner concluded.

"Free-to-air broadcasters are losing their grip on their role of gateway to our lounge rooms. IPTV lets you cut out the middleman completely and old-world broadcasters like Seven are seen by some as simply dead weight," he wrote.

For more:
- The Register has this story
- Hydrapinion has this analysis

Related articles:
Digital TV Labs tasked with developing IPTV test standards
Hybrid TV deployments herald a change in operator vision

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