SkyCable to roll out first digital TV recorder service in PH

Two years after it first brought HD (high-definition) channels to local viewing, Lopez-owned SkyCable is attempting to break new grounds once again with the first PVR (personal video recorder) service in the country which it is scheduled to offer in the first quarter of 2011.

The PVR offering, which does not have an actual brand yet, works exactly like the TiVo service in the US in which a device records TV shows onto a hard drive in digital format. Unlike video and DVD recorders, there is no need for tapes or disks. PVRs also have the ability to pause live TV and replay scenes just watched while continuing to record.

Rodrigo Montinola, SkyCable VP for marketing, said during the press briefing last week in Quezon City that the PVR service would give subscribers the “power to choose not just what to watch but when to watch”.

“But given the difference in demographics, we’re not expecting it to be as big as in the US. The important thing is to get it out in the market and see the customer reaction,” said Montinola.

Subscribers who will avail of the service will be charged an added amount for the PVR box that will be installed in their homes. The company said it has ordered a minimal number of units for the launch of the service early next year.

SkyCable’s move comes after tech titan PLDT revved up its vaunted marketing machinery this year to promote its satellite-based digital TV service under the Cignal brand. In a press briefing in early October, Cignal president Ray Espinosa boldly predicted the end of cable-based TV service in the country.

But, Montinola refused to be drawn in a word war and simply said that cable TV service, now infused with HD programs, is still expanding in the country. “Our infrastructure is in cable TV and we continue to invest in cable TV,” the official said.

In fact, Montinola said SkyCable is expecting to double its subscription base, particularly in Metro Manila, this year. A major driver of this growth, he said, is the introduction of SkyCable Select, a service allows subscribers to pick and choose the channels, including HD, that they want to be added to their cable subscription.

In 2008, the cable firm pioneered the first HD TV broadcast in the country when it presented the Ryder Cup golf tournament in HD followed by the introduction of 24/7 HD channels by April 2009. In June of the same year, SkyCable scored another innovation when it presented the first locally produced HD program with the airing of live coverage of the UAAP and NCAA basketball games in HD.

Last July, SkyCable also offered the exclusive HD coverage of the 2010 World Cup matches in South Africa.

At present, SkyCable offers eight HD channels, namely: Discovery HD World, History HD, National Geographic Channel HD, HBO HD, NBA Premium HD, Star Movies HD, Fox Crime HD and ESPN HD.

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