ZillionTV Expands Pilot, Replaces CEO

Dave Zatz —  October 21, 2009


If the ZNF tip line is any indication, ZillionTV has recently expanded their pilot program:

You are eligible to become one of the first television viewers to register for the ZillionTV service for a 1-Time payment of only $99 (plus tax). The ZillionTV Device and motion-sensing remote are FREE, including FREE shipping. There is NO monthly subscription fee. The ZillionTV Service is all about putting you in control. Choose the movies and TV shows you want to watch, when you want to watch them; choose the ad categories you want and view for FREE, or watch no ads at all and pay a nominal ‘pay-as-you-go’ fee. Gain access to a compelling combination of new and classic TV shows, Hollywood movies, classic movies, sports, documentaries, music and so much more.

So the first take away is, as I suspected, the formerly “free” ZillionTV hardware/service is out the window. And the few times I’ve seen startups charge for advance or “beta” access, it seemed to coincide with serious organizational dysfunction. We do know Zillion’s dumped about 30% of their staff, rethought their business model, pushed their official launch into 2010, and replaced their CEO today. Of course, as a gadget guy, most of that is background noise. I’m far more interested in finding out what happened to their sexy hardware renders, as this D-Link router-looking STB shipping during the pilot fails to inspire.

Click to enlarge:

8 responses to ZillionTV Expands Pilot, Replaces CEO

  1. Dave – did you read the Hulu — or at least most of its content — is like to become paid in 2010? Since ZTV’s offering is supposed to be similar (free content with ads), that may be an issue for them.

    For whatever reasons, most likely due to how ad rates are negotiated, networks only care about live viewership and it seems their solution to missing an episode is buying it from iTunes/Zune/Amazon/PSN.

  2. I did see that, but didn’t find time to post on it until this AM. Interestingly, some of ZillionTV’s backers ($$$) are the same studios behind Hulu. You’re probably correct to suspect that a purely ad-based service (of content we want to see) is less and less likely.

  3. I too received my ZillionTV email stating I can now buy the $99 hardware and finish my registration with them. I went to their site (had not been there in months) and found it looking the same: no GUI shots, no hardware descriptions, no programming listed, etc.. It did not put much faith in me spending $100 for a box that I know so little about. I had hoped by the time they released hardware they would be more forthcoming about their hardware and service, but it all seem a bit too smoke and mirrors right now. If I knew the hardware at least had a USB port so I could play some local files I would jump, that way if they go belly up, I at least have some usable hardware.

    Anyone else seen more details on their offerings?

  4. I also got my invite, I also went looking for some kind of programming guide and I too was disappointed to find no details of the service or the hardware. I sent a couple of email asking for some kind of guidance but, not surprisingly, got no response. I haven’t found one testimonial of how the service works since it’s launch and won’t plop my hundy on a sinking ship. I wanted so bad for this thing to work as advertised – I’ll still hold a little hope until I find out otherwise – but with someone else’s money.

  5. I actually took the bait. I put the $99 on my cc and they sent me a box within 3 days. The streaming video quality was excellent (it showed as 1080i on the TV but the resolution looked a bit lower). The box shipped to me had a heavy metal old school type shell.

    I used the HDMI connection. Boot time was about 3 minutes from a fresh start or restart. I had to restart the device several times as it would freeze if you kept it running over night.

    The free with ad features (TV/Movie) were very limited. Most of the features required $1.99. Most of the free stuff was old series and low budget movies.

    The interface and remote were top notch in the cosmetic arena but took time to get comfortable with the operation.

    I called ZillionTV to complain about the lack of free content and they offered to waive my $99 to keep the box. I agreed but got a call the next day saying they could not waive the $99 but could give me a free 90 day trial. I sent the box back.

    To wrap this up, I think ZillionTV is a great idea with several flaws:

    1. You do not own the box. If you cancel service, you have to return the box or pay a mystery hardware charge. I inquired about the charge and was told that they expected to charge a $300 lost/replacement fee. If any part of the box or remote have damage, you will have to pay a repair/replacement fee. This includes returning all cables. If you don’t return the HDMI cable, you will be charged a $50 replacement fee.

    2. Several bugs in the interface. The OS will freeze if you leave it on all night. The OS will freeze if you watch several movies in a row. All of the above require a 3 minute reboot.

    3. Very little customer service as of yet. Lots of mystery charge that you are warned will be applied to your credit card if you fail to follow their rules.

    4. Very little free content. Most of the content is already available on HULU and it requires no registration fee.

    5. Did I mention, the $99 is only a registration fee. The box is only loaned to you.

  6. I have had the box for 2 weeks. Quantity of content is lacking. Hopefully they address over next month or so.

    As far as having to return the hardware, I’m confused on it. If I decided today that I hated the service, I dont have to tell them I”m not using the service. Unless they go to a monthly svc charge, what is considered a cancellation?

    To add a little protection from surprises I used a virtual credit card number from my CitiGroup account. It expires in 60days.

  7. SAVE YOUR MONEY AND RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!! DOn’t bother with ZillionTV, there is very little and crappy “free” programming. They have something called Zillion Zones that is actually pretty cool, only the Zones don’t have anything cool in them. I would try getting a SEZMI box or go with a BOXEE device. Both of those blow Zillion out of the water!

  8. I also took the bait. If you like watching the Andy Griffith show then Zillion TV is perfect, because that is basically the only thing you will find with the free with ads option. Everything else is for ‘rent’ or ‘buy’. They also supposedly gave me a $25 gift card but that appears to have been a load of bull.

    The talk above about having to pay if you cancel really does have me confused though. What would they consider canceling? I can just put this stupid gadget in my closet, right?

    If Zillion TV can’t provide the majority of their TV content as ad supported they will fail. I don’t mind the movie rentals, but I am never going to ‘rent’ a TV show or ‘buy’ a TV show via Zillion. If I am going to buy the show I will buy the DVD or the Blu Ray discs, not a format that could disappear on me the second Zillion goes belly up, which is looking very likely at this point.