It seems Britain’s three biggest broadcasters, namely the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, want a slice of the increasingly popular online television pie, and are willing to put aside traditional rivalries to grab that slice.
The three most popular TV broadcasters have jointly announced a plan to launch ‘Kangaroo’, a video on demand online venture, which they hope will compete with the giant that is YouTube.
Each of them are taking a one-third stake in the new venture, which is being labelled “Freeview Online” and between them will provide over 10,000 hours of original programming.
Up to now, the BBC and Channel 4 have provided limited amounts of their own programming on their own services, the BBC iPlayer, and 4oD respectively, but this new plan sees a new level of participation entirely.
Not The End Of iPlayer?
It seems, at least at first, that the BBC will hold back any programmes released in the last seven days, and push them through iPlayer instead, but should ‘Kangaroo’ take off even more than iPlayer has up to now, I can see that changing quite quickly.
John Smith, the chief executive officer of BBC Worldwide said:
“For some time we have wanted to form an alliance with other rights holders in the UK and give viewers an on-demand service with real added value. By combining our resources we are really taking control of our destiny in a market that’s moving at a fast pace.”
The service will be free to users, and supported instead by advertising revenue that the three companies will most likely share. This means that the BBC will be making money from ITV and Channel 4 clips, as well as their own, and vice versa.
Other broadcasters will also be invited to submit material to the project, although it remains to be seen whether any apart from the big three will be offered a joint equity stake.
The service will be launched sometime in the middle of 2008, though no more details are yet forthcoming. Even the name will change, with ‘Kangaroo’ unlikely to be retained as the official title.
Andy Duncan, the chief executive of Channel 4 said:
“We believe this deal will lead to a major step change in the on-demand services offered by UK broadcasters and is good news for independents and the create community, for advertisers and, above all, for viewers.”
This initiative is a really exciting prospect, and certainly signals a move towards big broadcasters realising the future of television lies online, and on demand.
If ‘Kangaroo’ proves to be successful, expect a host of other similar service to crop up in the not to distant future.
With the pay per view Sky and Virgin both also increasing their on demand options to customers, it seems the UK, and its big broadcasters, could be leading the way in taking television wholly online.
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