Web-based programming and services from content aggregators is an exciting new entertainment landscape, offering couch potatoes on-demand access to TV shows and movies that aren’t available on the broadcaster’s schedule. Content is downloaded or streamed to a set-top box (or TV or other connected device) using said potato’s broadband Internet connection, allowing them to be able to watch when they want, not when the networks say.
CASPA (Content And Services Platform Asia) was one of the first on-demand IPTV services and, although currently available only via the Tivo media device, can ultimately run on any box that chooses to support it. The Tivo device also doubles as a 320GB PVR whose intelligent search features are matched only by those found in Foxtel’s iQ and IQ2 pay TV boxes, the cost of which is around $100 a month. The Tivo box costs $699 outright – a couple of hundred more than many competing PVRs, including those offering web-based entertainment.
If the relatively high cost of the device the CASPA service is married to is a turn-off, alternative ways to access the service will be available soon (though not all may be cheaper). Hybrid TV, the company bringing CASPA to market and the licensee of Tivo in Australia, reports that CASPA will appear on select net-connected living room devices (TVs, games consoles and Blu-ray players) by Christmas this year.
CASPA, like many online content delivery services, requires you pay money into a digital wallet, which gives you credit to download movies and TV episodes. Movies cost from $4.99–6.99 and TV episodes typically cost $1.99, so pricing is competitive with other services. Some content is free, and all is, for the time being, in standard definition only.
Content is divided into genres, such as Classic, Kids & Family, Romance and similar. TV is similarly divided, and there’s a music category too where you can view clips or entire concerts. All up, Hybrid TV reckons there are more than 500 movies and 2000 hours of television available for download.
Most interestingly, CASPA currently offers a handful of trailers which are streamed in 3D, allowing you to test out your new 3D TV. We’re promised more 3D content from September this year, but with the ink not yet dry on deals between Hybrid TV and the content owners, specific details were not available before this issue went to print. The company did, however, indicate that forthcoming 3D programming will include animations, documentaries, short films and TV shows.
What we’re also promised is advertiser sponsorship of TV and movies in the near future, making them free to the viewer. You’ll be subjected to a number of unskippable ads, of course, but the prospect of choosing a specific sponsor for your evening’s entertainment is interesting.
A Search function allows you to locate movie titles of interest from the CASPA catalogue.