LONDON — Ashley Highfield, the BBC topper behind the successful launch of the pubcaster’s iPlayer, has been tapped as CEO of Kangaroo, the new on-demand service backed by BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4.
The appointment of Highfield, the highly regarded executive who has led the BBC’s influential new media initiatives for the past eight years, to lead Kangaroo, due to launch later this year, indicates how seriously its owners are taking the initiative.
In addition to overseeing the launch, Highfield will be in charge of negotiations with third party content owners and securing distribution deals for the VOD service on other platforms.
As the BBC’s director of future media and technology, Highfield has helped secure the BBC’s pre-eminence in new media culminating in the success of the iPlayer, launched last Christmas but already changing the way Brits watch TV. In the past three months the iPlayer has delivered over 42 million video requests and is poised to be as influential in the online world as the U.K.’s digital terrestrial service, Freeview, has been in digital TV.
Highfield’s tenure at the BBC has also seen substantial growth at bbc.co.uk, Blighty’s third most popular website with an average of 20 million people visiting the site a week.
Highfield, who joined the BBC from Flextech, succeeds Lesley Mackenzie, who has been managing Kangaroo as interim CEO.