TVCatchup Now Pushing Live UK TV To iPhones

It’s already proved a thorn in the side of broadcasters once; now TVCatchup is trying again. The UK startup, about which little is known, is streaming 11 live British channels (from BBC, ITV (LSE: ITV), C4 and Five) to iPhone’s Quicktime via a new web adjunct (

Though some of them stream live to their websites, not even the broadcasters themselves are yet transmitting live to mobile (though BBC has a limited live trial on Nokia (NYSE: NOK) handsets). But TVCatchup plans to offer 40 channels, the same roster delivered through its web player, to iPhone in the next few months, right under their noses.

The quality is excellent, it works over 3G and, thanks to Quicktime’s pause and skip buttons, viewers are able to pause and rewind live TV as though using a Sky+, V+ or Freeview+ box. The outfit has submitted a proper app to Apple.

TVCatchup abandoned its original model, which let users “record” shows on its on-site PVR, in February 2008, amid uncertainty that it played nice with broadcasters’ licensing requirements.

It’s since been offering a wide selection of live channels in high quality via an in-web player, using the same loophole section 73 of the copyright act that fellow live streamer Zattoo uses to stream free-to-air channels.

Like Zattoo, TVCatchup’s own video ad inventory is prerolled before viewers can watch their chosen channel. Netimperative : “The app … will be supported by pre-roll video ads managed by sales network 24/7 Real Media and .Fox Networks.”

But TVCatchup hasn’t given up on the VOD avenue that’s still evident in its name. It’s been working on a desktop app that would let users download shows for catchup.