UK TV Networks Joining Forces For Broadband On-Demand Venture: Report

The UK’s main broadcasters are reportedly planning a broadband media player joint venture that would pool their programming as on-demand video downloads. An unidentified source told The Guardian BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are working on a “one-stop shop”, Project Kangeroo (why the misspelling?) that would “do for broadband what Freeview [the digital terrestrial TV platform] has done for digital television”.

Each broadcaster already has a web-TV strategy of its own but each is distinct. Channel 4’s has proved successful, ITV’s is in the process of rolling out along with a new website and the BBC’s iPlayer, while it will ultimately be the most full-featured, is not due to launch until later this year. Marrying the different strategies could prove difficult. The BBC only received approval for its own plan in April and would likely need to walk over regulatory coals again before it can go ahead.

One source described the early plans as “akin to how Joost — in which CBS and Viacom have a small stake — operates as a platform to deliver programming to all personal computers.” Eliminating competing delivery methods, many of which only allow viewing in Internet Explorer, might well yield more viewers. But for all the source’s comparisons to Freeview and taking programming to broadband TV, these discussions could easily concern not a grand joint media retail destination but merely interoperability and standards compliance now that hybrid IPTV/Freeview boxes are being added to the plethora of viewing options – for example, a common standard for IPTV downloads.