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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.
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