Seven to let viewers pay to avoid ads

By Wenlei Ma | 9 May 2013

Seven is getting in on the pay TV and internet TV game with a hybrid broadcast broadband TV (HbbTV) service to launch next year. It will give viewers an ad-free option, but only if they pay for it.

At Seven West Media's investors day yesterday, Seven Network chief executive Tim Worner announced the company would launch the service next year.

He said: “Australians love TV and internet services, we're famous early adopters. For so long the conversation has been about the internet versus television. [HbbTV] is the best of both worlds. It's the future of Australian TV.”

Seven's HbbTV service will work through connected TV sets and allow viewers to stream live TV, watch catch-up or pay-per-view on their terms. Viewers will  be able to pay for an ad-free option or pay to see advance episodes of some programs before its broadcast.

Additionally, HbbTV should offer advertisers more tools such as data and sponsored recommendations. In a presentation video, Seven gave an example of viewers being able to buy products featured in a program through the platform. Because an individual's viewing habits is trackable, recommendations of other programs, or potentially products, can be made based on audience profiles.

Worner added: “Imagine being able to conduct a conversation with each one of them, a two-way conversation which ends in the ultimate pay-off, a sale.”

Seven West Media managing director and chief executive Don Voelte told investors the company's net profit after tax would probably be down 2% to 4% for the financial year. But he was upbeat about future prospects. “Even if advertising doesn't alter its present trends, we believe FY 2013 was the worst of it for our company on a net profit after tax basis."

Seven West Media shares climbed 10% yesterday to $2.30. Today, its share price grew a further 3.4% to $2.38 just after midday.

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