Kangaroo may be all but dead, but the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 aren’t giving up on their joint plans to launch the definitive Internet video service in the UK. Enter Project Canvas.
The Competition Commission recently put the kibosh on Kangaroo, the joint online video-on-demand initiative from the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4.
While the venture may survive in some form, I expect it to evolve considerably. Possibly into the new venture currently being called Project Canvas due to its all-encompassing, inclusive nature.
The main complaints from the CC, originally argued by BSkyB and Virgin Media, was that Kangaroo would be anti-competitive and basically kill off the plans of other broadcasters to launch their own VoD services.
The recommended course of action was to open up the service to other broadcasters, and that’s exactly what seems to be being suggested will happen by the BBC. Rather than Kangaroo though, this will be Project Canvas.
The BBC and ITV, along with BT (British Telecom) will now work together on opening up the infrastructure to all, including Channel 4. This will mean a new open standard for online video could be on its way in the UK.
The BBC iPlayer is a brilliant service, offering an excellent interface, great connection speeds, and the whole library of BBC-made content. If the iPlayer was opened up to all, then the UK could potentially lead the world in offering TV catch-up services.
Approved By All?
Even Virgin Media and BSkyB would be welcome to use the technology, being able to use the existing framework to launch services on the Web, set-top-boxes, and other gadgets.
Project Canvas requires BBC Trust approval but it’s hoped that the initiative will get under way by 2010, assuming of course none of the BBC’s rival broadcasters have any complaints. They shouldn’t do, seeing as this is exactly what the CC asked the BBC to do after their original moans.
There are still some questions remaining over how the service could work. An open standard suggests a lack of DRM (Digital Rights Management) but the BBC currently uses that to prevent iPlayer users from simply saving recorded or streaming programs to their computers.
The loss of DRM would clearly cause problems and probably cut BBC DVD sales dramatically.
Then there is the question of revenue. The BBC is adopting this new policy to try and make up a cash shortfall from the TV license, so it’s going to want to see some return on its investment in creating and managing the iPlayer standard.
Project Canvas sounds excellent on paper but the number of kinks that will need ironing out ahead of any launch could see this being a few years away yet.
[Via The Register]
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