By Jemima Kiss: Channel 4’s first tranche of online television archive is likely to remain the only substantial online TV archive in the UK for some time to come. Though the 4,000 hours of content have been available for free for some time through Channel 4’s downloadable desktop 4OD application, the revamp of Channel4.com transfers that material onto the web and makes it accessible to all web users, where 4OD was Windows only.
The 4,000 hours represent just a small fraction of the station’s overall archive, but all Channel 4’s digitised archive. It will be open in beta on 25 June with a full commercial launch on 3 July. A Channel 4 spokeswoman said the collection would be added to regularly as the broadcaster digitises and clears the rights to more material: “The 4,000 hours is all of our digitised archive and it is increasing all the time as we get more rights to old C4 shows and as shows that have previously been available in the ‘catch-up’ rights window move to the archived rights window.”
— ITV: ITV (LSE: ITV), meanwhile, could not give a date for its own online TV archive plans. A spokeswoman said that adding more archive content to ITV.com is something the broadcaster is actively exploring in the “post-Kangaroo world”, referring to the proposed cross-broadcaster web TV service that was blocked by the Competition Commission in February. “It’s something we’re looking into but we haven’t reached any decision yet or found a solution that suits us. It’s something to pursue,” she said.
As the overall downturn, online advertising is being devalued by a surfeit of inventory triggered partly by the growth of social networking sites, but the spokeswoman said archive plans were not being affected by concerns about limited advertising revenue: “There’s a big difference between video on ITV and YouTube,” she said. “Where there is high-quality content, you will find advertising around it – Britain’s Got Talent shows that – it had a sell-through rate of nearly 100 percent. For high-quality professional, there’s still a market.”
ITV has been focused on pre-roll ads that generate better returns, she said, adding that like the rest of the industry web TV was undergoing an evolutionary process to find the balance between effective advertising and non-invasive formats for the consumer.
— BBC: At the BBC, the iPlayer is limited to seven day catch-up TV and could not add older archive content without approval from the BBC Trust via a public value test. Archive television will instead be organised through the corporation’s extensive Archive project, which is digitising 4.5 miles of written documents, 10 million photos and 500,000 hours of radio as well as a million hours of TV by 2022.
Headed by Roly Keating, the ambitious project will prioritise which TV content will be released first, but has not yet set a date for publication. “Discussions about how and when we release the archive are underway but this is a very long-term project,” said a BBC spokesman, adding that selected content from across the archive is being digitised, organised and published on the project’s Archive website.
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This article originally appeared in Â© Guardian News & Media Ltd..