BBC, ITV, C4 unleash Kangaroo

VOD service to launch next year

LONDON — Blighty’s big three terrestrial operators — the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 — are to bow a joint video-on-demand service, which they hope will do for broadband what terrestrial service Freeview did for digital TV.

The venture, known as Project Kangaroo and set to launch next year, is to offer auds more than 10,000 hours of fare including catch-up and archive shows.

Each broadcaster will have an equal share in the venture, which echoes U.S. on-demand service Hulu backed by NBC Universal and News Corp.

BBC Worldwide topper John Smith hailed the move as “a historic partnership.”

He added: “By combining our joint resources we’re really taking control of our destiny in a market that’s moving at a fast pace.”

The joint venture will “work inde-pendently as an aggregator of both joint venture partners and third party con-tent” and will encourage other content providers to come on board.

Initially it will be web-based but in the long-term the goal is to deliver Project Kangaroo direct to TV sets.

Content will be available both streamed and downloaded and auds will be able to watch for free, rent or buy.

Clearly all three parties believe there is strength in numbers in what is an increasingly competitive market as platform owners and rights holders attempt to gain a key advantage in the emerging on-demand world.

Significantly, Five — Blighty’s other terrestrial player — is not in-volved in the venture.

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade said: “The joint service has the potential to become an important shop window for U.K. broadcaster content.”

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