As Seven, Nine & Ten engage in one upmanship in Australia over the future of TV services and HD, the UK’s leading broadcasters – ITV, BBC Worldwide and Channel 4 – have announced they will launch ‘Kangaroo’, a joint online service to deliver more than 10,000 hours of TV programming online.
The service that is subject to formal approval from the BBC Trust and the boards of the other two broadcasters, has been given the go-ahead by TV bosses. It will feature content from all three providers as well as some third-party content.
The service which will be launched as a web service in 2008 can be watched for free and will also be available for download.
The three broadcasters will have an equal holding in the new venture that will work independently under launch CEO Lesley MacKenzie.
Andy Duncan, CEO, Channel 4, told Reuters: “TV on the internet is a rapidly growing medium. We want to continue to build and innovate in this area… and believe that partnering and sharing expertise is the best way of doing this.”
All three organisations currently use their own television on-demand platforms to provide catch-up services: the BBC player is in the final weeks of public testing and officially launches on Christmas Day, while Channel 4’s 4oD service and ITV’s online archive are both proving popular. These separate platforms will continue to exist alongside the Kangaroo “aggregator” service, which will pull in content from each of them.
The plans will have to be approved by the BBC Trust, and by the governing boards of the other broadcasters before the project can officially go ahead. The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 will share the cost of providing the technology for the venture.
It means that users of the new service will be able to stream content to their computers for free, and will be able to download, rent and buy programmes for a fee. The Kangaroo service is expected to include some advertising.
John Smith, the chief executive of BBC Worldwide, hailed the broadcasters’ partnership as “historic”, and said that the new service would be “both easy to use and great fun”. “By combining our joint resources we’re really taking control of our destiny in a market that’s moving at a fast pace,” he said.
Channel 4’s chief executive, Andy Duncan, said that the service would give viewers “ultimate control” over what they watch and when they watch it, while Michael Grade, executive chairman of ITV, called it “an important shop window for UK broadcaster content and a great destination for viewers”.