UK "big three" broadcasters to launch on-demand video service

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kangaroo_bbc_itv_channel_4_video_on_demand_2008_uk_broadcasters_programming.jpgBBC Worldwide, ITV, and Channel 4, have today announced that they are set to launch a joint on-demand video service, offering a wide variety of both current and archival programming, next year.

With a working title of “Kangaroo”, the service will offer a collection of over ten thousand hours of the best of these broadcasters’ content, plus that of other carefully selected third party broadcasters.

Subject to approval by the BBC Trust and the board of directors for each broadcaster,it will be initially available on the web, with the possibility of it being distributed via other platforms in due course. Content will be available both for streaming and download, with viewers able to watch for free, rent, or buy programmes.

Broadcasters’ existing services, such as BBC iPlayer, Channel 4’s 4oD service, and ITV’s 30-day catchup service, are likely to evolve into this single service.

Sounds like a smart move, as each player will own an equal share of the business, jointly sharing the cost of technology and infrastructure, and each player’s unique understanding and experience of delivering on-demand content. In a file-sharing, YouTube world, this project should offer more clout than anything each individual broadcaster can offer.

Let’s just hope that the BBC’s love affair with Microsoft continues to dissolve, that Channel 4 learns how to create a non-Windows/Internet Explorer-based player, and an increasing number of Brits who don’t use Windows PCs aren’t frozen out.

Also, that the ongoing call for a major improvement in the broadband infrastructure and services happens pretty quickly, otherwise there could be some disgruntled ISPs and consumers.

Oh, and perhaps ensure that the final service isn’t called Kangaroo.

Andy Merrett

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