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CE Retailers: No ZillionTV For You!

Retailers: Don’t think the just-announced broadband video-on-demand service ZillionTV will be offering any new revenue opportunities to help you in these trying times — you didn’t make the cut.

Although the streaming movie and TV program service promises a nice-looking flat-panel TV set-top box called a Z-Bar and an air-mouse-like Z-Remote with accompanying user interface from Hillcrest Labs, the product is being positioned for distribution through broadband ISPs, not you.

“We do not plan to offer the ZillionTV Service through CE retail,” Ellen Davidson, ZillionTV spokesman, told TWICE. “We plan to offer the ZillionTV service, including the Z-Bar and Z-Remote, through Internet Service Provider partners (specifics not yet announced). We believe that providing ZillionTV in partnership with ISPs ensures that the quality of service — easy to get, install and use with the best television experience possible using a high-speed Internet connection to the television — is the right choice.”


The service offers a compelling subscription-free business model. The ZillionTV service is expected to charge a start-up fee of less than $100, and most content will come tagged with three access options: watch for free after first viewing a commercial; rent for a 24- to 48-hour period for 99 cents to $3.99; or buy the content, which will reside within Zillion’s servers, for $9.95 to $14.95.

Not only that, ZillionTV may be your newest competitor. The service will incorporate a patented “T-commerce” function into the box and service, which consumers can use to make online product purchases through the TV set.

According to a statement on the service, ZillionTV, which is in beta tests now before launching later in 2009, will partner with Visa to allow consumers to link their Visa cards with the ZillionTV service to purchase products directly from the ZillionTV Buy Now Button on the motion-sensing remote. Visa cardholders will also find enhanced offerings such as targeted promotions.

“ZillionTV’s T-commerce functionality will offer viewers the opportunity to get more information and/or buy products at the touch of a button,” said Davidson. “At this point, we’re not getting into details as to what products will be offered. However, as Visa is a key partner of ZillionTV, we’re expecting to leverage Visa’s extensive merchant network.”

As for content, the service promises to carry more than 15,000 movies and TV programs from Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, NBC Universal and Walt Disney Studios, all of which are ZillionTV equity partners. These will be released along traditional video-on-demand windows of 30 to 45 days after the DVD release.

To start, the service will offer only standard-definition quality video, but Davidson said ZillionTV plans to add HD as well.

So to compete, retailers will have to use their HD quality content from Vudu and Roku boxes, and various other IPTV devices, to catch the new online content infrastructure wave, unless you can convince ZillionTV’s eventual ISP partners to cut in you in on the action when the product launches. If you still want to.