TVCatchup, which tried to offer on-demand TV shows via a dodgy web-based “PVR” before it was shut down amid legal questions in February, is back – and this time it’s playing it safe. The site has relaunched to offer live channels, apparently with endorsement from each of the UK’s public service broadcasters – there are 18 so far from the BBC, ITV (LSE: ITV), Channel 4 and Five, but the service aims for 40 by year’s end as well as overseas channels. The picture quality is frankly outstanding; the site says it will be ad-funded.
A spokesperson told paidContent:UK: “TVCatchup has consulted with the broadcasters; they were granted full and exclusive access to the service prior to the public launch; and no objections to our claim that the website operates in accordance with current legislation were raised.” Though TVCatchup’s recording functionality proved too legally racy first time around, like Zattoo, it’s now using a legal provision in section 73 of the copyright act to rebroadcast the UK public service channels as live. Remember kids, you’ll still need a TV license to watch Countdown on your office laptop.
TVCatchup is waiting for new European broadcasting regulation to come down the pipe next year that will allow it to broadcast non-UK channels. Winning formal carriage for commercial channels, especially so early in its ad funding strategy, may be more challenging than signing UK PSBs. And on both counts TVCatchup is being met by a growing number of rival online TV streamers including Zattoo and Livestation, plus the pay-TV platforms’ own ambitions to move in to PC-based TV viewing. We still haven’t been told exactly who is behind the site. Release.