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April 30, 2009

Setanta kicks off iPlayer rival

Setanta-i promises more personalised experience

By Steve Evans

Sports broadcaster Setanta has launched a new online video service offering both live and on-demand coverage of major sporting events such as Premier League football, boxing and rugby.

The service has replaced Setanta By Broadband, with existing customers being transferred to Setanta-i. The UK version of the platform will be bundled with a TV subscription as well as on a standalone basis.

Online television services such as BBC’s iPlayer and Channel 4’s 4oD are now hugely popular and Stephen Michael, Setanta’s director of new media, said that Setanta By Broadband had been left behind by the competition.

“Setanta By Broadband had fallen behind consumer expectations,” Michael told CBR. “We knew we need to step up to the plate and improve.”

Michael added that Setanta-i is a much more personalised offering than the iPlayer, with a higher quality of image. “The video is up to 1.8 Mbps and defaults to a full screen so it is much more like watching a TV. We wanted to give users much more control over what they watch and when and how they watch it,” he said.

Users can chose to record programmes, which are then stored in their personal area, as well as set up video playlists and add favourites. There is also a ‘milestone’ feature that enables users to jump to key events – such as goals in a football game – while watching on-demand coverage.

The broadcaster is said to have about 2 million subscribers and Michael said that they are expecting a significant number to use the Setanta-i service.

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The platform uses Microsoft Silverlight and video acceleration technology from Swarmcast, via the Autobahn plug-in, to reduce buffering. The front end application was built by EMC Consulting.

The service will be available in a number of regions, including the UK, US, and Ireland.

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