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The ABC has announced four new Internet-based services that will deliver content to a PC or directly to a media player. ABC Playback, is a full-screen media player that will offer three channels of TV content delivered via the Internet. The new Internet service could end up with users chewing up vast amounts of broadband bandwidth as they stream content says a senior Telstra executive.

 “We love these new services because once a consumer has used up their bandwidth allocation under a fixed price agreement they will have to pay for additional usage. The role out by TV station of IPTV content will drive up bandwidth useage and consumers have to be aware of this when they are accessing Internet Radio or IPTV offerings which are often large files. In some cases like with the ABC the content will be accessed via a unique browser.” they said.


ABC Playback will initially be offered in beta form to 5000 testers round Australia, starting from March 26. The beta period is expected to last for about three months.


The three Playback channels are: Catchup, which will show repeats of recently aired shows from ABC1 and ABC2; Real, a natural history channel; and ABC Shop, which will offer programs for purchase as digital downloads.

 

The ABC says it plans to offer additional channels at the public launch of ABC Playback following the beta trial period.
The other initiatives announced by ABC MD Mark Scott yesterday include ABC Local, a collection of 60 online local sites round Australia offering news, features stories, pictures, video and audio reflecting local events; a new
24/7 continuous news centre; and ABC Shop Downloads, giving access to a large catalogue of DVD, CD and download products.


The online continuous news service will initially provide content to other parts of the ABC, but it is understood access will later be extended to the public. Major emphasis is being put on the ABC Playback online service, designed by ABC Innovation, a division which looks after new media. Content will be streamed on-demand and at high resolution to cater for the growing number of Australians with fast broadband connections, the ABC says.


Geo-blocking will restrict access to Australian ISP addresses, to comply with program licensing conditions. Access to any individual program will be limited to 14 days.

 

While most users will presumably watch on PCs or laptops, ABC Innovation says users whose television is connected to the Internet will gain the benefit of a full television viewing experience.


Free podcasts to stay “ABC Playback is about the future of broadcasting and will speed up the already seismic shift in the way video media is consumed in Australia.(It) offers early adopters a novel way to watch full-length ABC programs on the big screens, be they computer monitors or LCD TVs,” said Sam Doust, creative director at ABC Innovation.

The ABC’s existing free podcasts of programs like At the Movies with Margaret and David, The Chasers War on Everything and Lateline will continue.


Interested viewers can sign up for the beta test at http://abc.net.au/playback. That link wasn’t working when CDN tried it yesterday, but an alternative way in is to log onto the ABC’s reworked Web site at www.abc.net.au and click on the Playback link.

 

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