BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4 have formed a commercial three-way joint venture to launch an on-demand service in 2008, tentatively titled Kangaroo. An official name and brand for the new service will be unveiled before the launch The new service will be competition for on-demand services offered by the UK’s Five, Sky, BT Vision and Tiscali.
“Kangaroo’ will offer up more than 10,000 hours of current and archived programming from all three British broadcasters. Initially, the service will launch as a web-based proposition, with expansion to other platforms planned. Content will be available for free download, streaming, rental and purchase.
Lesley MacKenzie has been appointed to launch the new service, and is recruiting top executives to lead the joint-venture team. MacKenzie was responsible for launching TataSky in India.
The three broadcasters currently offer their own separate on-demand services—BBC’s iPlayer, ITV’s catch-up service on ITV.com and Channel 4oD—and these services will continue to exist alongside the new online aggregator. Plans for the new service are subject to formal approval from the BBC Trust as well as each broadcaster’s board.
John Smith, the CEO of BBC Worldwide, commented: “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.’
ITV’s executive chairman, Michael Grade, added: “This key strategic move is complementary to our investment in itv.com and further strengthens ITV’s customer proposition online. The joint service has the potential to become an important shop window for U.K. broadcaster content and a great destination for viewers.’
“We believe this deal will lead to a major step change in the on-demand services offered by U.K. broadcasters and is good news for independents and the creative community, for advertisers and, above all, for viewers,” said Andy Duncan, Channel 4’s chief executive.