Thursday, 29 November 2007

British broadcasters want to launch online TV

From The Times:

ITV, Channel 4 and BBC to launch online TV

Three UK broadcasters develop new online TV under the working title Kangaroo, which is set to compete with YouTube

Dan Sabbagh, Media Editor

Britain’s three most popular broadcasters will next year launch a joint television over internet service in an attempt to compete with the likes of YouTube for online audiences.

ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC’s commercial division are each planning to take a one-third stake in the “Freeview online” venture, and will make available current and archive programming to watch over the internet on demand.

The supply of ITV and Channel 4 programmes promises to be comprehensive, although the BBC plans to keep separate programmes released in the past seven days. These will instead be released through its iPlayer software.

Clearly commercial in intent, the service will accommodate advertising both within and around clips, and according to Michael Grade, ITV’s executive chairman, “the deal is structured so that we each benefit from content being viewed”, implying that some advertising revenue will be shared.

Other broadcasters are invited to submit their content to the service, currently dubbed Kangaroo, but it is not clear if they will be offered the chance to buy an equity stake. It will be launched sometime in the middle of 2008, under a brand name yet to be decided.

The three broadcasters are planning to discuss their plans with the Office of Fair Trading to ensure that it complies with competition law. Although the trio dominate viewing in the UK, they argue that their true competition is powerful multi-nationals such as Google, the owner of YouTube.

The group also argues that a shared service, using a single software application is simpler for consumers to use. Until now, Channel 4 and the BBC have both developed services that use incompatible software to play their programmes — 4OD and the iPlayer respectively — although other broadcasters, including ITV, simply rely on streaming video without a special software on the desktop.

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