BBC, ITV & C4 team up for on-demand TV

New catch-up and archive website to arrive next year

An online and on-demand content treasure trove is set to be launched by BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 under a joint partnership next year. The service currently has the working title of Kangaroo and will, according to a joint statement issued by the broadcasters bring together "an exciting collection of over ten thousand hours of the very best of the UK broadcasters' current and archive programming, with the convenience, simplicity and ease of use of one overarching service." We're sure ISPs, currently uneasy at the potential growth of the BBC iPlayer, will be thrilled - as will BT Vision.

The reason BBC Worldwide (BBCW) is involved and not the actual BBC is because this will be a commercial service that effectively involves the reselling of content just like BBCW already does on DVD. Kangaroo will carry this archive content which the BBC will also get further monies from.

The service won't replace the currently-in-beta BBC iPlayer, but will simply provide another outlet for its wares - 30-day limited BBC iPlayer downloads will be linked to within Kangaroo. However, Channel 4's 4OD service will be rolled into the new service though it seems some on-demand content will continue to be available from Channel 4's website. For ITV.com - which doesn't currently have a substantial download service operating - the move surely represents excellent value.

The statement released this morning says that the plans are subject to formal approval from the BBC Trust and each broadcaster's board. "The deal is structured so that we each benefit from content being viewed, ensuring that there is significant revenue potential in the growth of the venture for all involved," said Michael Grade, Executive Chairman of ITV.

Kangaroo bounds ahead

According to the other details released, Kangaroo will be a "rich entertainment site" that "will be owned equally and will work independently as an aggregator of both joint venture partners and third party content." It's thought that other content owners will be encouraged to join the service in due course.

Crucially for those who have been stung by the Windows-only nature of the BBC iPlayer, programmes will be available from Kangaroo for both streaming and download use, though details of platform support are not yet available. You will also be able to watch for free (probably in the case of current content) as well as rent or buy. So while the service will include content available elsewhere, the site's key selling point is that everything will be available in a single place.

According to the broadcasters, the new service will be able to share the cost of the latest technology and build on the experience of 4OD, ITV.com and the BBC iPlayer. "This is a historic partnership between the UK's largest broadcasters. For some time we have wanted to form an alliance with other rights holders in the UK and give viewers an on-demand service with real added value, said "John Smith, Chief Executive Officer of BBC Worldwide. "By combining our joint resources we're really taking control of our destiny in a market that's moving at a fast pace."