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UK VOD Player Blinkbox Offers Paid-for BBC Downloads

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After Project Kangaroo, life goes on in the VOD world: UK video player Blinkbox has won the rights to offer 75 BBC shows including Planet Earth and Top Gear on a paid-for download basis. Individual shows will cost from £1.89 and users can buy entire seasons — but some shows, such as older series of Doctor Who and Hustle, will be available for free but will carry ads. BBCWW wouldn’t discuss financial arrangements when we asked, but FT.com reports that Blinkbox paid in advance to get its hand on the content and will share revenue with BBC Worldwide. BBCWW shows only become available to BlinkBox 180 days after being aired on TV.

Blinkbox founder and CEO Michael Comish tells FT.com that the site was pitching to BBCCWW to show its content for two years but the Beeb’s commitment to Kangaroo made a deal impossible. So that’s vindication to all the companies that opposed Kangaroo as a monopolistic VOD competition killer — its failure has spurred the BBC to sign content deals with independent online video start-ups, exactly as the project’s critics wanted.

It’s part of a move by the Beeb to get its content on free and ad-supported platforms since Kangaroo’s demise — its content is also available via MSN’s video player. Broadcast technology firm Arqiva bought the remains of the Kangaroo Project and still hopes to host BBC content on a part-free consumer site. Kangaroo partner Channel 4 chose instead to digitise its own archive, putting 4,000 hours of old material on its 4OD site.

And as for Blinkbox this is the latest in a series of TV and movie content deals it’s signed since launching in 2007 and leaving its public beta stage last year, including agreements with All3Media, Fremantle and Warner Bros. The company this year hired Wootmedia and WebTV to sell advertising on the site.

What does US VOD player Hulu make of the BBC’s content deals? The company has made major inroads into mainstream TV viewing habits in the States and hopes for a UK launch sometime soon. But if it wants to capture a meaningful market share it had better act fast. Comish claims in the release: “There