[by Mike Butcher @ MIPCOM] Mainstream UK broadcaster ITV has bitten the bullet and begun a three month trial of its service on broadband internet. The pilot, dubbed ITV Local [c21Media, Digital Spy] will run in Brighton and Hastings, among the most ‘wired’ places in the UK (28% broadband penetration compared to the national average of 22%) and will feature seven channels and so-called ‘Citizen’s TV’ – likely to be PBS cable access style programming, but which will include local competitions and content such as a search for the best unsigned band in the region.
Like most TV broadcasters ITV is facing a downturn in ad revenues as digital channels fragment the audience and viewers switch off the TV and fire-up the Net. A local broadband TV service should appeal to local businesses (assuming Google AdSense doesn’t take the market first?).
The project is being headed by ITV Local project manager Lindsay Charlton, head of the ITV Meridian franchise. “The rapid advance in the number of broadband homes in the UK, combined with improvements in streaming technology, has transformed the opportunities for local broadcasting,” said Charlton.
Technology is being supplied by US TV specialist Narrowstep which already has a broadband TV product called CityTV, designed to showcase a region.
The ITV trial is in fact available to all comers at itvlocal.tv, (the site crashed our Safari browser, but hey) – meanwhile the BBC is believed to be planning a pilot of a similar service.