Huggers: Canvas Ain’t No Marsupial, But Viewers Still Want Kangaroo

Anyone who’s read the respective proposals knows that they appear quite different services. But, with the vitriol that Project Kangaroo attracted – from rivals, if not from consumers – during its Competition Commission scrutiny, it was always possible that the BBC’s Project Canvas would attract similar scepticism – Sky’s submission this week to the current consultation on the project only confirms that.

So BBC future media and technology controller Erik Huggers is battling to delineate the offerings – one an open standard for IPTV VOD, the other an aborted commercial VOD funnel. He told a Broadcasting Press Guild luncheon on Wednesday (via C21): “There’s confusion in the marketplace between the ambition of building a platform that we call Project Canvas and the content aggregator called Kangaroo. To mix those two up and draw parallels between them is short-sighted and simplistic because they’re completely different things.” Maybe so but, with the IPTV proposal short on specific detail, and with Canvas aiming to be a free alternative to pay-TV VOD, it’s not wonder Sky is antsy.

The Competition Commission may have decided to block Kangaroo (a ruling many observers consider to have been wrong-headed) but, in that BBC way, its ultimate goal may yet come to fruition somewhere down the line. Huggers (again via C21): “The fact that Kangaroo got the boot has the entire corporation rethinking what its digital strategy should be. Whether Kangaroo was going to happen or not, the technology’s going to continue to change, consumers still want it, the future of the corporation is an IP-based future, so we’re going to have to have an answer for it one way or another. It’s like water – it’s going to flow.” Indeed – although Kangaroo’s plans stopped at the desktop, Canvas, too, is a multi-partite venture fixed on delivering catch-up TV. Canvas could also yet offer commercial VOD, as well as free VOD, for example.

The BBC Trust will publish its interim Canvas conclusion by June 8.