BBC Worldwide, ITV (LSE: ITV) and Channel 4 have confirmed they are joining forces to launch a major new online on-demand UK TV joint venture. The “entertainment site” will offer catch-up for recent shows plus archive episodes, with both free-to-view, pay-to-rent and buy-to-own models involved. It will initially be delivered over the web but content will later be distributed via unspecified “other” platforms and can be both streamed and downloaded, an emailed announcement said,.
We were told of this plan in October and have reason to believe the effort will be powered, at least in part, by a version of the BBC’s public service iPlayer, due to come out of beta before Christmas. As per murmurs in June, the project is codenamed “Kangaroo” until a proper name is picked prior before launching next year. They’re calling it an “aggregator”.
Each stakeholder will own an equal share in the JV and they are encouraging other producers, too, to make their programming available via the platform (Five is notable in its absence). It’s all subject to approval by the broadcasters’ boards and, in BBC Worldwide’s case, the BBC Trust. Kangaroo will pool “over 10,000 hours of … current and archive programming”.
– Complementary?: The JV partners will “share the cost of the latest technology … whilst building on the experience of 4OD, ITV.com and BBC iPlayer”. If it’s not clear where that leaves 4OD (Channel 4’s P2P on-demand application) and ITV.com (which features web-embedded catch-up TV and was part of ITV’s £20 million summer web relaunch), ITV exec chairman Michael Grade said Kangaroo is “complementary to ITV.com”, which will continue to do what it was retooled for. It will also “complement” iPlayer – its free shows from the last seven days will appear inside Kangaroo. There’s now a question mark over 4OD, however – it will add a catch-up feature to its website, but “4oD will evolve into the new service”.
– ITV revenue potential: Grade called it “an important shop window” and said it will “play an important role” in delivering on ITV’s turnaround-plan aim of tripling online revenue to £150 million by 2010: “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.”
– BBC destiny: BBC Worldwide CEO John Smith called it a “historic partnership”, adding his company had wanted to form such a partnership “for some time”: “By combining our joint resources we’re really taking control of our destiny in a market that’s moving at a fast pace.”
– Five: The door is still open. A spokesperson for Five told paidContent:UK: “We have discussed this with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 in the past and will be sitting down and talking to them again shortly about our involvement in this new venture.” Five was already known to be planning its own online VoD phase two for release next year with ad-supported shows included in a mix of models – though C4 was later reported as saying Five was sidelined in planning, it’s probably true to say that it’s not yet ready to come on board.
– Appointment: Kangaroo has appointed BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) director of channel and operations Lesley MacKenzie as launch CEO.