iiNet to drop iView from Freezone? -- update

ISP's CTO says the cost to run the catch up TV service is having a serious impact on its business

Despite the ABC’s intention to dramatically expand its catch up TV service, iView, one ISP partner, iiNet, has flagged it may have to cease carrying the service in its Freezone due to the strain it’s putting on its network.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia iiNet, chief technology officer, Greg Bader, said that while it saw iView as a stimulus to the fledgling IPTV industry, the costs associated with the service left its future in doubt.

“iView overall, it is a real plus [and] customers love it,” he said. “However, the ABC need to address the cost issue for ISPs unmetering it… there is a real cost to carry this and that needs to be addressed.”

iiNet offers the iView service as part of its unmetered content, meaning customers don't have any downloaded data counting towards their quota or download limit.

Bader said that the ABC would also need to invest in its own ICT networks if it was to successfully see the iView service expanded to more ISPs and devices such as the iPad, which ABC Mark Scott flagged yesterday.

“At the moment their content distribution network is inadequate and inefficient [and] we are not sure that unmterering is sustainable unless they address this,” he said.

While there was a question mark over the future of iView on the iiNet work, Bader confirmed that the ISP would still carry the ABC and other free to air TV stations on its forthcoming Fetch TV set top box.

“These will be delivered in a much more efficient manner [and] multicast where we can,” he said.

ABC iView launched on July 23, 2008 with around 6 to 8 hours of content per week, and one year later recorded 221,000 visitors, and 764 000 visits for the month of July 2009.

In March this year the service had grown to offering over 220 programs from ABC1, ABC2 and ABC3 and recorded some 471,000 visitors, and 1.671 million visits.

According to the ABC’s acting head of multiplatform, Arul Baskaran, the ABC’s partnerships with ISPs and hardware vendors such as Sony are not commercial arrangements, rather distribution agreements to extend reach and availability.

“We will always control the publishing and presentation of the content,” he said. “So all the devices we partner with use a simple feed – much like RSS within the web world. We are open to working with all partners, but must carefully weigh our finite resources and enter into partnerships that deliver significant new value to our audience.”

An ABC spokesperson told Computerworld said that that it was not a requiremnt of the nine ISPs which carried iView that they offer it as an unmetered service.

"There is no clause in our agreements suggesting ISPs must unmeter iView, rather it is a decision by ISPs that is happily facilitated by ABC," the spokesperson said. "We rely on, and continue to develop strong relationships with our ISP partners who support us. We also understand that they are keen to provide great content for their customers.

"We appreciate the effect the growth of ABC iView has on our ISPs who offer unmetered access and we continue to work with them closely to ensure we can make ABC iView as accessible as possible."

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