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The Rise and Fall of ITVN

itvn The Rise and Fall of ITVNThe dirty secret about ITVN, the company that brought Setanta Sports via broadband to TV set top boxes in North America, is that its sister company (XTV) was an adult entertainment company. Both companies used the same technology. The set top boxes looked identical (except for the stickers on the front). Even the ITVN remote control had XTV’s name on it.

XTV, along with ITVN, ceased operations on April 3. According to an article in XBIX (warning: not safe to read at work), XTV’s “business and subscriber base grew slower than anticipated and, to a large extent, has been displaced by new evolving technologies and services that have undercut [its] business model of charging subscribers a monthly fee for obtaining television programming over the Internet.”

The article goes on to say that XTV is closing shop but “has approximately $10 million of unpaid liabilities, including more than $8.35 million of secured debt.” Meanwhile, XTV and ITVN President Charles Prast, is the last remaining employee of the company. Perhaps he’s the one responsible for double charging the credit cards of ITVN customers?

When ITVN announced in August 2006 that it would be providing its service to soccer fans in the United States, the company seemed like a godsend. After all, the only way to get Setanta Sports at the time was DirecTV. For Setanta Sports, ITVN was a stopgap solution to provide its soccer network to the thousands of customers who were unable or unwilling to subscribe to its service via DirecTV.

When Setanta announced a deal with DISH Network in August 2007, ITVN became less of a priority for Setanta Sports and its customers. After all, the 24/7 soccer network now was available on the two largest satellite providers in the country.

Sadly, ITVN’s service deterioated over time. First, its Setanta Sports on-demand service was yanked from its network when ITVN learned that it didn’t have the license rights to show the content. Second, ITVN decided not to make Setanta Xtra available to its customers even though ITVN could have done so if they wanted to (ITVN would have just had to pay Setanta Sports more for the service, and could have charged customers an additional add-on fee).

Third, and most frustrating of all, the technology that streamed the games via broadband failed at the most inappropriate times (i.e. when the biggest matches were on such as Liverpool against Manchester United, where ITVN customers complained about stop-start streaming video, which made the experience almost unwatchable).

ITVN’s eventual downfall was exacerbated when a Canadian company named BroadShift abandoned plans to acquire the company for $11.5 million in December. From there, it was downhill fast for XTV and ITVN until they ceased operations in April.

While XTV provided viewers explicit content in the comfort of their own homes, the business model for ITVN and its offering of Setanta Sports channel was very limited. Even if ITVN was able to continue in business into the near future, the majority of its ITVN/Setanta Sports customers would have left the minute that Setanta would have been made available via cable.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

8 Responses to The Rise and Fall of ITVN

  1. Simon Burke says:

    Yes ITVN became crooks, i know a couple of folk in addition to me that got double charged. Good luck getting a hold of them…
    CROOKS!
    Unfortunately it makes no sense in the modern age to have a box by which to get an internet stream into the telly. It seems like an unecessary extra step. It did okay for 15 months and provided a decent stopgap as the Gaffer called it – its really up to Setanta to get themselves on Cable now and solve this football watching issue once and for all… The problem with Dish and DirecTV is they dont bundle in decent internet so cable/Fios is still more attractive.

  2. Todd says:

    living in an apartment and facing the wrong direction, ITVN allowed me to see matches i wouldnt have otherwise seen. for nearly 2 seasons ITVN was not the ideal solution but pretty darn close. however once setanta broadband became a better option, i made the switch. but ITVN slowly but surely did their part to lose trust with their customers. then they dropped certain sports like rugby. and with subpar quality (inevitable with the technology) blacked out sports, no dvr, buffering during matches…and yet the whole time we paid the same price dish customers did? even setanta broadband now is a rip off. if people are willing to pay these prices for a subpar setanta, why not just get it on cable and see how many more get it. no bar in my state opens at 7am for a prem match, let alone pay for another channel, so in home is the only option

  3. Simon Burke says:

    Good point , I think Broadband is okay and I used it too but its not a replacement for television quality on a TV. I think it ought to be cheaper as well.

  4. RIP says:

    That is the real question…when will Setanta be available on cable? I don’t understand how it hurts cable to add a premier pay channel to their 100s of HBOs, showtimes and cinemaxes..

  5. United4life says:

    I just rceived my credit card bill in the mail today. ITVN again charged my account 14.95 twice on 3/28/08. This was after i emailed them in February to cancel my services. I had to call my credit card company again and contest these charges. They are going to reimburse me the charges.

  6. Simon Burke says:

    Knowing Setanta, they collect nearly 100% profit and give none back… They are tight.

    If they offered Comcast and the like more I am sure this wouldnt be an issue. I for one cant see why I get 4325426536 music channels instead of one premium channel.

  7. GunnerGene says:

    I am one of those fortunate customers of ITVN that got irate back in February when ITVN wouldn’t respond to either of my requests to cancel service. I had my credit card replaced that ITVN charged monthly, and couldn’t be more pleased, especially after hearing about the double billing mess. ITVN had NO contact with us for approximately a month until the auto bill for March came due, and the bank denied the charge. ITVN then sent along an email (finally) stating that they had to suspend service to my box till I got caught up on the payment. They also went on to state that if I was intending on cancelling my service, that I would need to send back the equipment, or they’d take legal steps to retrieve it!!!!!!!!!!! The equipment was free to us as we’d met the requirements of having continuous service for a one year period-that was the agreement!!!!!!!! What a bunch of flakes! I kept the box out of spite, and have NO intention of sending it to them. I feel this, in some miniscule way, helps me feel better about all those months of sub-standard feeds we were getting-frozen video, crappy video even when it WAS working, and having to pay for that incredibly crappy service. Good riddance ITVN, you will not be missed. I have now subscribed to Setanta via broadband, and am somewhat happier-although the video quality still isn’t up to snuff in my honest opinion. i agree with many that cable needs to pick up Setanta, and maybe as the sport of footie picks up over here, that will come to be. Fingers crossed it happens one day, but till then, I’m at least able to still see our matches.

  8. v says:

    any way to hack the box and use it?

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