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TiVo hits pause button in Australia

Staff shed in restructure, Fetch TV a buyer?

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Just over a week after a much-publicised kick-off in New Zealand, it has emerged TiVo's A/NZ partner Hybrid TV has wound back operations to a skeleton staff. Sources have told The Register an asset sale for the video-on-demand platform could be on the cards.

Robbie Minicola, CEO of TiVo Australia’s licensee Hybrid TV, has confirmed the business restructured in December but would not comment on the details.

According to Reg sources, about 40 staff were shed in the restructuring process, including CTO Brad Wilson and head of corporate affairs Rebecca Blasina. The call centre operations have also been reduced to email-only responses.

Hybrid TV now reportedly has five staff remaining in Australia and New Zealand, putting the future of services to its claimed customer base of 80,000 in question. A spokesperson for the company would not comment on the recent events or the future viability of Hybrid TV.

Industry sources suggest that Hybrid TV is in advanced talks with emerging IPTV provider Fetch TV to offload its assets. Both parties have a ISP mutual partner in iiNet which may be set to benefit from any such consolidation.

The company launched in Australian 2008 and despite a sustained marketing blitz, retail and ISP partnerships, the VOD service has failed to get traction in the Australian market. It is understood that controlling shareholder Seven was unimpressed with the lacklustre take up particularly following a very poor Q4 sales period.

Hybrid TV is majority owned by the Seven Media Group with a 67 per cent stake, and New Zealand broadcaster TVNZ with 33 per cent Hybrid TV has Telecom NZ as its major ISP partner in New Zealand.

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