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Zillion TV Aims For Direct-to-Consumer Offering

28 Sep, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

ZillionTV, the on-demand content service with five studio partners, could be embedded in set-top boxes and connected HDTVs in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to company CEO Mitch Berman.

And while the company is partnering with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to deliver the service, ZillionTV is also experimenting with a direct-to-consumer strategy, whereby consumers would be able to access the service without the need for an ISP partner in their area, as long as they have a 3MB broadband connection or better.

“We’re deploying, slowly but surely,” Berman said. “We are testing with live humans. Where we don’t have a [ISP] partnership. We’re going direct to the consumer.”

Currently, consumers have to sign up for the service on Zillion TVs home page, and can only test it out if their ISP has signed on with the company. Initial testing areas included Palo Alto, Calif., Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington D.C.

“We’ve been watching the industry carefully and closely monitoring trends to evaluate our distribution strategy,” Berman said. “We wholeheartedly believe that partnering with ISPs is the best strategy and remains our primary distribution path.

“However … we are now considering offering the ZillionTV Service directly to interested viewers in areas not reached by our [ISP] partners.”

After a one-time $99 fee, users get a remote and a thin ‘Z’ bar that fits on top of an HDTV, and includes Ethernet, USB and HDMI ports, with built-in wireless. Once connected, users can access instant, on-demand streaming video without the need for a hard drive. Users have buy-to-own, rent, or free ad-supported viewing options, and with the ads, users get to choose which type of advertisements they are interested in.

More than 60 content providers have signed on with Zillion TV, including five of the six major studios: Disney, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Sony and Warner Bros.

Berman has said that the goal is to offer consumers “the largest TV system ever built.”

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