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Showme the Lightbox

Telecom’s soon-coming online TV service offers up a new name, a little content, pricing, but not enough hard information yet to attract customers.

Yesterday’s announcement by Telecom about its renamed VOD service, now known as Lightbox, was probably welcomed more by the service’s competitors than anyone else.

At $12.99 a month, Quickflix will have been happy to see Telecom’s Lightbox position itself at the $15/month price point. There will be less than 50c a week difference in price between the two services, but Quickflix hasn’t been undercut and presently offers a broader range of content than Lightbox will commence with.

Neither Quickflix nor Lightbox are likely to draw away those using VPN services to access US-based services such as Netflix or US networks’ own ondemand services.

Sky TV, which has also announced plans for its own VOD service by the end of the year, will also be happy with the Telecom announcement. Sky has kept its powder dry and can time its own announcements to minimise any threats it sees as the Telecom service is rolled out.

When that roll out will be was one of the many important pieces of information absent from the Lightbox announcement: “in the coming weeks” was as specific as Telecom got.

The good news for prospective users of the service was the announcement of a 30-day free trial (sign up here), although that might be a double-edged sword for Telecom. Unless there’s a dramatic and speedy increase in the amount of content on offer, it won’t be hard to binge through a good amount of what’s likely to interest an individual viewer during that free month.

The service allows up to five devices to be connected per subscription, which means at least three could not be connected in this writer’s house. It’ll be possible to stream two pieces of content simultaneously, according to the same people who told you TiVo would buffer a full movie within 30 seconds.

As for the content that has been announced, there’s very little to excite.

The three shows named are Kiefer Sutherland vehicle 24 – Live Another Day, which will be at least halfway through its US run before Lightbox launches; the long-in-the-tooth Mad Men; and Vikings, which has completed two seasons overseas but not yet been shown here.

It seems reasonable to assume that most of the people who want to watch 24 or Vikings will already have done so, either by pretending they live in America or by using torrent or cyberlocker services.

The full release from Telecom is here.

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