Five’s Airey To UK Broadcasters: Let’s Partner To Stop Hulu

The UK’s Competition Commission may have outlawed the BBC/ITV/C4 commercial VOD venture Project Kangaroo on antitrust grounds, but there’s still appetite for a grand online TV JV in the UK. Five CEO Dawn Airey says broadcasters here are “staring into the abyss” if they don’t form a Hulu-like alliance, according to Variety.

Like” Hulu – but not necessarily Hulu, that is. Variety: “She said, unless video-on-demand services such as the proposed Project Canvas – backed by the BBC, ITV (LSE: ITV) and British Telecom – are greenlit, the ‘major beneficiary’ is likely to be a company like Hulu.” Canvas is the new, BBC-led proposal for an industry consortium to work on living room VOD IPTV standards.

Hulu has signalled its intention to launch in the UK, but it’s all about how many content rights it can acquire. It would be ironic if, in blocking Kangaroo to protect competition, the commission’s verdict only paved the way for a US incomer doing effectively the same job.

A further irony – Five was not a part of Kangaroo and is not yet a Canvas partner. But Airey, seemingly intent on a domestic partnership, seems smitten: “Hulu is the biggest success story of the web over the past 12 months. And why has it succeeded? Because three ferociously competitive global media players — Fox, NBC Universal (NYSE: GE) and now Disney-ABC — are grown up enough to know that there is a time to compete and fight likes rats in a sack for audience share and there is a time to put aside your differences and form partnerships that are mutually beneficial.”