Channel 4 goes online with Web simulcast

Service to bow Tuesday to registered users

Channel 4, Blighty’s commercially funded pubcaster, is launching a simulcast version of its main TV channel via broadband. However, due to rights issues, acquisitions and movies will be excluded.

In a first for a big U.K. terrestrial, the Web-based service will bow Tuesday to registered users via the channel4.com Web site.

The BBC has experimented with various broadband-delivered versions of its TV programs, including streamed World Cup 2006 coverage for domestic auds, but this is the first time a more-or-less complete channel is to be shown via broadband in the U.K.

It seems movies and acquisitions, a key part of C4’s primetime schedule and vital to the C4 brand, are unlikely to ever form part of the offer. C4 is seeking to form partnerships similar to the one it has with Disney, which since the spring has enabled C4 to sell downloads of “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” for 99 pence ($1.80) an episode.

During the parts of the broadcast schedule when acquired shows are being aired, the broadband-delivered stream will show promotional material.

Initially the stream will carry the same commercials as C4’s broadcast service, but the plan is eventually to carry unique ads on the Web version.

Announcing the service, CEO Andy Duncan said, “I don’t see the digital revolution as an attack on Channel 4’s power as a public broadcaster.

“I see it as a fantastic opportunity to build on what Channel 4 has always done — stimulate, infuriate, debate, create. The difference is we’re doing it in many more ways than just via broadcast these days, because we have to engage with the public wherever they are.”

Rivals are certain to be watching how the Web-based C4 is used by auds.

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