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British TVs are about to get a lot more internetty. The BBC’s regulating BBC Trust has provisionally approved the corporation’s approval for Project Canvas, an effort to create a common interface for IPTV-delivered catch-up VOD and internet widgets in the living room.
The BBC, ITV (LSE: ITV), Channel 4, Five and ISPs BT (NYSE: BT) and TalkTalk will create a new JV company, in which each has an equal stake, to devise an electronic programme guide software layer for a new range of broadband-connected Canvas boxes due in late 2010, and perhaps later integrated on connected TVs. The system will offer access to the broadcasters’ own VOD, but has also promised to offer a software developers’ kit (SDK) to encourage internet content on to the screen…
That certainly means the long-held possibility of video from the likes of YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo on living-room TVs, but the BBC has also been using words like “apps” and “widgets” to describe further services that may be built on top, like Twitter and Flickr.
“Canvas” was conceived to deliver VOD and online TV to the 53 percent of UK viewers the BBC says “risk falling behind” by not subscribing to pay-TV – so it’s riled News Corp.’s satcaster BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) (the UK’s most popular pay-TV platform) and cable operator Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED), the latter of which is finding big VOD success of its own. Both providers, and all comers, have been invited to place their content on Canvas, which has promised to offer payment mechanisms to content owners that wish to charge for their content. Netflix’s UK movie rental counterpart Lovefilm has shown an interest in developing a service through Canvas. Estimated costs are £115.6 million ($185.5 million) over five years.