VOD Arm’s Race: C4, TalkTalk Join Canvas; C4, Five Mounting SeeSaw?

BBC’s IPTV director Richard Halton now has C4 and TalkTalk to add to his Project Canvas partners BBC, ITV (LSE: ITV), Five and BT (NYSE: BT). The addition of a fifth and sixth partner to the connected-TV EPG scheme means costs to the BBC will fall from the originally forecast £16.6 million over five years to £16.4 million.

The BBC Trust is expected to rule on Canvas in the next couple of weeks; BBC FM&T director Erik Huggers and COO Kerstin Mogull have given interviews about it in the last week. Halton last month rejigged the proposal to give more voting power to ISPs in what will be a JV board.

Meanwhile: And has son-of-Kangaroo just matched YouTube’s gambit to win the VOD arm’s race?

SeeSaw‘s PR tells paidContent:UK it’s not commenting on NMA’s report that it’s won licenses for Channel 4 and Five VOD shows: “I can’t confirm that at this stage. We’re not announcing anything today; there will be further announcements.”

YouTube had stolen a march in the race against SeeSaw, Hulu, MSN Video and shared iPlayer when it signed C4 and Five shows in the last couple of months, giving it half of the UK’s main PSBs.

All SeeSaw had to announce, by contrast, was a small number of BBCWW shows. SeeSaw getting the same content would put it neck-and-neck on rights acquisition – though still far behind as a consumer proposition since it’s pre-launch and doesn’t yet have a big brand name.

But SeeSaw is an excellent name itself and – owned by the same Arqiva that has worked closely with broadcasters for years and jointly runs Freeview with BBC, ITV, C4 and Sky – could yet find itself annointed the PSBs’ preferred VOD platform.

Still, few – if any – of the content owners want to do exclusive deals, so this race may all come down to what each platform can do with identical content.

SeeSaw is still taking beta invites on a first-come, first-serve basis for an expected January test.