Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Chasing the Trans-Pacific Express

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  • Aidan,

    Same old drum, but lack of an unencumbered EPG (EIT) has really stuffed the NZ market.

    Here in Aus I can buy an HD set top box with PVR/recording abilities for $70 (needs an external drive or flash disk) .

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Basically a clone of what was foisted on the Aussies with AUS-USA-FTA.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5433 posts Report Reply

  • joseph,

    Wow, I normally agree with most of what you write, but irritating and confusing? Yikes! I love my TiVo, and find it highly enjoyable to use. The kids can use it to put Hi5 on after kindy, it cant be too confusing if my 5 year old can use it! (the TiVo kids zone function is great!)
    cheers,
    Joseph

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson,

    We were patiently waiting for the release of TiVo in NZ, but when it became known that it was only going to be available through Telecom (and it wasn't at all clear whether any other ISPs would be supported), we promptly went out and bought a freeview PVR. We felt let down.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 619 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to joseph,

    Wow, I normally agree with most of what you write, but irritating and confusing? Yikes! I love my TiVo, and find it highly enjoyable to use. The kids can use it to put Hi5 on after kindy, it cant be too confusing if my 5 year old can use it! (the TiVo kids zone function is great!)

    Fair enough. But compared to MySky, it's a mess. Things like recorded programmes being under "Now Playing" were too cute. The number of clicks to record a programme was too many. I really just started to hate having it as my default Freeview decoder.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    We were patiently waiting for the release of TiVo in NZ, but when it became known that it was only going to be available through Telecom (and it wasn’t at all clear whether any other ISPs would be supported), we promptly went out and bought a freeview PVR. We felt let down.

    Serious marketing fail, that one. The only thing you needed a Telecom broadband connection for was the on-demand content, which was mostly rubbish anyway, but it was enough to confuse the customer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Aidan,

    Same old drum, but lack of an unencumbered EPG (EIT) has really stuffed the NZ market.

    Here in Aus I can buy an HD set top box with PVR/recording abilities for $70 (needs an external drive or flash disk) .

    The fact that Freeview in NZ is MPEG 4 didn't help either -- MPEG 2 kit is commodity-priced and MPEG 4 still isn't that cheap.

    The lack of a full EPG for Maori Television and Prime hurt TiVo too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    MPEG4 is pretty much standard now (I'm guessing the chipsets are all just MPEG2/4 compatible).

    Exhibit #1 $70 HD MPEG4 set top box with USB record (and media player!)

    Exhibit #2 $300 twin tuner 1TB HD PVR

    Exhibit #3 $59 HD MPEG4 set top box with USB record

    Exhibit #4 $249 Dual Tuner 500Gb HD PVR

    I have contacted a couple of vendors to see if these things will work in NZ (want to buy one for my mum) but so far no luck. It isn't the MPEG4 specs, but the channel layout and spacing. This is a trivial thing to support, but with the lack of an EPG, and no freeview branding, I guess there is no real market for them to bother adding that functionality.

    Pity eh?

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Serious marketing fail, that one.

    Umm, yes, I didn't even know TiVo was available. Might have something to do with having MySky and being with Vodafone, but still, usually global brands launching locally make some sort of splash. Of course I might be living under a rock.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Adzze,

    The lack of a full EPG for Maori Television and Prime hurt TiVo too.

    And, surely, all Freeview content being made available on Sky including additional free to air channels such as Heartland (which isn't even available on FV!). Of course a large percentage of people were going to opt for MySky, even if you don't own the box (despite paying for it).

    My worry is that Freeview is going to die a slow death and we'll have just one major broadcast content provider (at least until TV-over-IP becomes competitive anyway).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Adzze,

    My worry is that Freeview is going to die a slow death and we'll have just one major broadcast content provider

    As long as it's a privately-owned monopoly, you understand

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Nope - mpeg 2 is standard, mpeg 4 is still something you buy special (rather than cheapest) silicon for - the NZ market is still too small and too much stuff in freeview is just different from everywhere else.

    Picking MP4 was cutting edge but you have to live with those decisions and we've seen the results.

    I spent years designing DVRs (protocol engineering, not UI) and everything I've seen in NZ so far just grates - the UIs suck - especially MySky - where's the skip forward 30 seconds? the "what did he say?" button (back 5 secs), - why to I have to to go up to get larger channel numbers some times and down others? I have a big screen TV, why does the UI have the graphics finesse of Windows 1?

    more importantly why can't I make my own PVR for Sky? I know it's not hard, the streams are bog standard - sell us a stream decoder , let us deal with the UI

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    And considering a DVB-T tuner now costs well under $100, Freeview need not cost a king's ransom. That is, if Freeview survives the tsunami of anti-intellectuallism.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5433 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Basically a clone of what was foisted on the Aussies with AUS-USA-FTA

    Worse. Basically, everything they couldn't get in ACTA and then some. It would be a disaster for New Zealand and I'm having trouble seeing a way to divert our blinkered bureaucrats and politicians away from it - the idea of a "free trade agreement" is too firmly embedded in the collective psyche, even though that's actually the last thing the TPPA is.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • Ethan Tucker, in reply to Sacha,

    As long as it's a privately-owned monopoly, you understand.

    You have to wonder how any attempt to dilute the rigor-mortis-like market grip of an unnamed privately owned monopoly would ever succeed, given the expensive lawyers and purely hypothetical political campaign donation power of that broadcaster.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    So, the reason PVRs cost $600 instead of $200 is... what, simply the MPEG4 issue, or are there other factors?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Ethan Tucker,

    Further to my earlier post, you might be interested to compare the offerings of Sky NZ and Sky UK. If you want the basic Sky package plus the sports channels, this is what you pay:

    NZ $70.85

    UK £31.75 (NZ$67.62)
    Incl Sky+ PVR, free broadband, free landline.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    The basic Sky ANZ package is $50.00 (plus $2.00 something or other for their magazine.) None of my whanau do sports channels of any kind-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    And last I heard, the sports channels are compulsory irrespective of package. No picking and choosing it seems.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5433 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Adzze,

    And, surely, all Freeview content being made available on Sky including additional free to air channels such as Heartland (which isn't even available on FV!). Of course a large percentage of people were going to opt for MySky, even if you don't own the box (despite paying for it).My worry is that Freeview is going to die a slow death and we'll have just one major broadcast content provider (at least until TV-over-IP becomes competitive anyway).

    Sky couldn't have planned it better eh?
    What the hell were TVNZ up to when they made that suicidal decision. It's almost like someone decided to kill off public broadcasting, Kordia ain't getting much help either but being a very smart organisation they will branch out and survive I think even though Mssr Joyce and Key have done their damnedest to destroy them.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    And last I heard, the sports channels are compulsory irrespective of package. No picking and choosing it seems.

    I have no sports on mine, much to the dismay of some of our more fanatical visitors. Don't get the magazine either, you can opt out.
    As for TIVO, too old tech and far too late to market, once again WTF were TVNZ thinking?

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Wrong DeepRed - the Sports Channel is not compulsory. They'd really love you to take up that option, and the Movie channel, and MySky (they keep hassling my mother about this -but not me. For the simple reason my 'phone is connected to an answering machine, and I ignore their emails.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Yes, I still cannot see that there has been any sort of case made for what quantifiable benefits NZ would have to gain from either signing an agreement similar or wider than the Australian- US FTA. Now that might not be a problem if it was that we would not be expected to sign up to quite significant changes in favour of the USA, but we are. So we should at least get something for that.

    When Australia went through this process there were several in-depth reports commissioned to examine the benefits of such an agreement and IIRC the report (s?) that favoured the Agreement largely relied upon rather large assumptions based on the value of "invisibles". Where the latter are benefits due to relaxed investment / other rules that increase the amount of inward US investment/trade. My view then as now is that these benefits are very hard to measure and whether or not the assumed benefits are actually linked to the changes to be agreed is almost impossible to know

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to 3410,

    And considering a DVB-T tuner now costs well under $100, Freeview need not cost a king's ransom.

    (a good PVR should have 3+ tuners - but they really cost a lot less than $100 when embedded - more like $10, and are a tiny part of the whole system)

    Well part of it is a combination of our small market (one that's fragmented into satellite and terrestrial segments, one mpeg2, the other mpeg4) and an unusual standard (mpeg4) - it means that off the shelf solutions aren't available - someone has to design one specially for us - and, even then, for a quality product most of the work is software. As more places pick up mpeg4 that issue will go away.

    There's also a butt load of stupid patents in this area and everyone wants their cut

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ben Austin,

    My view then as now is that these benefits are very hard to measure

    An Australian report last year measured them and came with a figure of minus $700m in just one area, didn't it?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

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