Friday, January 18, 2008

ITVN - Is this the End???

January 18, 2008 Posted by Jason Irwin , 7 comments

About a year ago, cut off from Rugby and soccer games back home in Ireland, and going a little bit crazy, I decided enough was enough. I weighed up my options for watching such games in the United States (even at the God-awful hours of the morning they are broadcast due to timezone differences) and found that Setanta Sports was the way to go. Every bar I had watched a game in in the US was hooked up to their premium service and I was impressed with both their content and presentation (commentators and panelists included).

Deciding on Setanta was easy, but there were really only 3 ways I could get it:

  1. Directtv. I'd love it, but I already had a comcast subscription and didn't feel like going to all that bother to switch.
  2. Setanta Sports Online. The demo I saw on their website showed a tiny viewing window (I had to squint), though I believe this has changed now. The main drawback with this one is that I'd have to a) watch games on my pc or b) hook my laptop up to my tv (and giving said size of playing window I'm sure this wouldn't have looked great on a big widescreen tv).
  3. The winner - purchase what at the time seemed like a futuristic gizmo - a box that streamed the games from the internet straight into my living room tv. The box was from ITVN ( The future seemed bright...

I was immediately impressed. The box came in the mail and setup was a cinch. Even for non technical users, this wouldn't have been a great ordeal. Video was good - by no means high definition and perhaps a little blurry when close up on the action - but extremely watchable. For the first 6 months I was very happy.

I'll be honest now and tell you that I personally had few gripes with the system. Very rarely one of their servers would go down - but there always seemed to be two more ready to go. Some servers were slower than others - I'm pretty patient and don't mind playing around (so long as the game hasn't started) to get the right one.

However, one major issue I had was when the Southern Hemisphere rugby tournaments started. An announcement on the ITVN forums stated that Setanta had forced them to pull coverage of these games - coverage which was advertised on the ITVN website before I made my purchase - coverage which I had paid for. And not just me…there were a number of disgruntled users who didn't appreciate a)not getting to see the games and b) having no other scheduled entertainment in their place - just a screen telling you that they weren't allowed to show these games - for the entire length of each game!!! Sure, I was annoyed - but there was other content I couldn't live without, so I struggled on.

Things got tricky on their forums in the last few months, with users complaining about performance issues, and minor feature related issues - such as not being able to record from the box on their dvr as after 30 minutes a screensaver appeared without any option to disable it. Technical support seemed to stop and users started to get very angsty.

Tonight I decided to take a look at the forums to see what is new…only to find the following message:

"ITVN is currently going through a corporate reorganization and we are no longer accepting new subscribers while we focus on our current subscribers.

ITVN is switching to an email only system. Accordingly, please send all Customer Service and Technical questions to

ITVN Forums is no longer a method to reach customer service."

Not only are ITVN not taking on any new customers - tech support is only contactable via email. There's nothing like asynchronous communication when you want an immediate reply. Is ITVN dead? My hope is that they've been bought out by a bigger organization that can pump in the resources necessary for such a worthy attempt to succeed. My belief is that the end is near….prove me wrong ITVN!