BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 to launch joint on-demand service

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007
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  • New UK on-demand service – a single destination for over ten thousand hours of quality entertainment content
  • Historic joint venture between three of the UK’s largest broadcasters
  • First time that viewers will have access to a large range of catch-up and archive programming
  • Venture will be a major competitor in UK on-demand content market

BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 today announced the creation of a commercial three-way joint venture to launch an on-demand content service in 2008 with the working title of ‘Kangaroo’.

The service will bring together an exciting collection of over ten thousand hours of the very best of the UK broadcasters’ current and archive programming, with the convenience, simplicity and ease of use of one overarching service.

These plans are subject to formal approval from the BBC Trust and each broadcaster’s board.

The UK service will carry a broad range of programming and will be a rich entertainment site where consumers can catch up on recently aired shows and watch old favourites.

The joint venture will be owned equally and will work independently as an aggregator of both joint venture partners and third party content and will encourage other quality content providers to join the service to further enhance the viewer experience.

Initially the service will launch as a web based proposition and will be available for distribution on other platforms. Content will be available both streamed and downloaded and viewers will be able to watch for free, rent or buy. A name and brand for the new service will be unveiled before launch.

The consumer proposition is built on the breadth and depth of programming that will be accessible in one place. This will be underpinned by each broadcaster’s extensive knowledge of programming, understanding of viewer behaviour and marketing capabilities.

The new venture will create a seamless viewer experience and will be an attractive proposition for advertisers, content rights owners and channel providers.

By joining forces, the joint venture will access each broadcaster’s understanding and experience of providing on-demand content and will be an important player in a new and developing market.

It will compete in the rapidly expanding online content space, where it will compete against a large and growing range of TV, film and other audio-visual content.

The new service will be able to share the cost of the latest technology and enable rapid technological enhancements whilst building on the experience of 4OD, and the BBC’s iPlayer.

John Smith, Chief Executive Officer of BBC Worldwide said: “This is a historic partnership between the UK’s largest broadcasters. For some time we have wanted to form an alliance with other rights holders in the UK and give viewers an on-demand service with real added value.

“The new service will contain some of the very best of the UK’s content for consumers to view in one place, which will 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.”

Michael Grade, Executive Chairman of ITV plc said: “This key strategic move is complementary to our investment in and further strengthens ITV’s customer proposition online. The joint service has the potential to become an important shop window for UK broadcaster content and a great destination for viewers.

“The deal is structured so that we each benefit from content being viewed, ensuring that there is significant revenue potential in the growth of the venture for all involved. The joint venture will play an important role, alongside, Friends Reunited and ITV Local, in delivering our online revenue targets as outlined by us in September.”

Andy Duncan, Channel 4 Chief Executive said: “TV on the internet is a rapidly growing medium as proven by the incredible success that Channel 4 has enjoyed with its 4oD service. We want to continue to build and innovate in this area, giving viewers ultimate control over what they watch and when they watch it, and believe that partnering and sharing expertise is the best way of doing this.

“We believe this deal will lead to a major step change in the on-demand services offered by UK broadcasters and is good news for independents and the creative community, for advertisers and, above all, for viewers.”

The new service will complement BBC iPlayer, the free catch-up TV service offering hundreds of programmes a week from the last seven days. BBC iPlayer content will be listed within the new service. will continue to feature a 30 day catch up facility alongside simulcasts of ITV1, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 and a wealth of news, clips, stills, exclusive content and interactivity across and around ITV programming.

Channel 4’s website will host a catch-up service including accompanying comprehensive programme information and clips, whilst 4oD will evolve into the new service.

The joint venture has appointed Lesley MacKenzie as Launch CEO and is currently recruiting top executives to lead the joint venture team. Previously Lesley was in India launching TataSky and prior to this was Director of Channels and Operations at BSkyB.