Channel 4 claim global first with major video on demand service

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channel4.jpgChannel 4 claims that it’s on the verge of creating a global first in the broadcasting world, by launching a Video on Demand service to broadband subscribers that will see its entire 25 year archive of British-produced programmes made available online.

Added to that, ongoing scheduled programmes will be available online for 30 days following the original broadcast.

The pricing structure is fairly simple. Initially viewers can pay 99p to rent a programme (presumably some exciting DRM scheme will be in place to vaporise your download after a set amount of time) or £1.99 to purchase it.

From February, monthly subscription packages will kick in: £3.99 per month for the TV service, £4.99 for a film service, or £5.99 for both.

Chief exec Andy Duncan is obviously very excited about the prospect. “This is the start of a revolution and a major moment in time,” he said, adding “It positions Channel 4 at the global cutting edge of the convergence of television and the web — this is the first time a major broadcaster has made all its commissioned content available online.”

He said 4oD, as the service will be called, could be financially profitable within 3 years.

Key US imports will be missing, because deals haven’t been struck yet, but even so, there should be some quality content available from that two-and-a-half decade archive.

Other channels have been experimenting with online content, including the BBC and Five, but this has to be the biggest project to date. It all kicks off from December 6th.

Andy Merrett