BSkyB, BBC Talking Over VOD TV Solution

Sky and the BBC are still discussing ways to place the broadcaster’s catch-up TV service on the platform operator’s set-top box, despite apparent opposing views on the matter.

BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) has previously said it wants to offer its customers access to individual BBC shows only through its own Sky+ programme guide. But the BBC refuses to syndicate its shows to anyone in this way and prefers instead to deploy its generic, web-based “iPlayer”-badged product, which is now on around 300 devices including connected TVs.

That would rule out Sky+, which BSkyB tells paidContent does not include a web browser. But there may yet be a solution. Sky tells us…

“We continue to look to expand the VoD content available through Anytime+ and are in dialogue with the BBC about how they could best deliver on demand content through Sky.

“Clearly, they are keen to reach the millions of viewers they have in Sky homes, and we’re keen to expand the content available to our customers, and so we continue to discuss a potential way forward.”

BSkyB last month added UKTV (owned by BBC Worldwide and Virgin Media) as its first VOD content partner. Its shows will be made available through Sky Anytime+, the Sky+ box’s recently-launched VOD-over-broadband service.

That could provide a template for a BBC deal, but would appear to require more video transcoding and distribution work than the redeployable iPlayer website. Still, Sky’s scale may necessitate a separate build.

“Putting to one side the technical capabilities of the box, the key issue here is what’s in the best interests of the 38 percent of all licence fee payers who also happen to be Sky customers,” Sky tells paidContent.

“Our connected Sky+HD boxes use broadband connectivity to deliver high-quality long-form video through Sky Anytime+, which our customers find the best, simplest and most intuitive way to discover and access on demand content. It also seamlessly integrates with linear TV and recorded Sky+ content.”

Last week, BBC on-demand manager Daniel Danker told paidContent he is speaking with broadcast platforms including Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) to offer iPlayer programme metadata – platforms to display BBC VOD listings inside their own EPGs, but the shows would be played inside the iPlayer web app.

All of this would get murkier still if Sky embarks on discussions with commercial broadcasters. They love their iPlayer-like, brand name badged services like ITV (LSE: ITV) Player and 4oD because they can sell video pre-rolls against their own shows. But would Sky request a slice of those ad sales for any commercial VOD its box may end up hosting?