November 19, 2007 / 5:02 AM / 12 years ago

Pioneer-backed online TV service launches test

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new online television service aims to offer what U.S. cable TV companies have resisted for decades — pay for only what you want.

SyncTV, a spin-off from Pioneer Electronics, a division of Pioneer Corp, plans to launch a private test on Monday to offer viewers the ability to download anything they want to a computer from channels they pay for on a monthly basis, an executive said.

Subscription fees range from $2 to $4 per month per channel. Shows will also be offered for sale at $2 per episode. The service is also advertising supported.

“We wanted to free up TV from the folks who make it difficult to innovate,” SyncTV President John Gildred said in a phone interview.

The launch comes amid an exploding interest in watching video online and a desire by media companies to offer content on every available outlet.

Unlike popular services such as Google Inc’s YouTube, Gildred said the service would offer “home-theater quality” videos that will include surround-sound capabilities and picture resolution at least comparable to DVDs and, in some cases, high definition.

The company did not reveal what shows or channels would be offered during the test phase, but said it was discussing partnerships with distributors.

SyncTV will be available for a public test in January, Gildred said.

By next year, the company said the shows downloaded from its service would be made available on as-yet-unavailable portable devices and on specially equipped televisions and set-top boxes.

Like most services not developed by Apple Inc, SyncTV videos will not work on iPod digital entertainment devices.

SyncTV said downloaded files are based on open-standards and will work on Microsoft Windows PCs and Apple Macs. The service uses the Marlin digital rights management system.

Gildred said the company is currently courting consumer electronics manufacturers to develop devices that will support the standard and expects such devices to be available some time next year.

Reporting by Kenneth Li; Editing by Ian Geoghegan

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