Even at the beginning of 2006, I wonder if people would have seriously contemplated such a possibility that
Britain’s biggest broadcasters united yesterday to unveil a new video-on-demand download service designed to take on the US giants, such as Apple, and the bedroom pirates alike, offering thousands of classic programmes at the touch of a button.
By offering the massive online library, with everything from mainstream hits to niche interest and cult classics, the BBC’s commercial arm, ITV and Channel 4 hope to help maintain their relevance in the digital age.
They also hope to avoid the fate of a music industry, which was brought to its knees by piracy and left to rely on digital giants such as Apple and its iTunes service for survival.
This seems to male a great deal of sense to me an industry coming together.
The “historic” agreement will allow viewers to replay recent shows they have missed, providing a home for the free catch-up services recently launched by ITV and Channel 4 and linking through to the BBC’s iPlayer
A mixed revenue also males sense
Some programmes will be available free, but accompanied by advertising, while others will attract a rental charge or be made available to buy for a higher fee. It may also experiment with a subscription service, offering “all you can eat” access for a set monthly fee.
The partners hope the joint venture will do for downloads what Freeview did for digital television when it launched five years ago and stimulated demand among those who would never have previously considered extra channels.
David Moody, managing director of digital media and director of strategy at BBC Worldwide, said: “It will allow viewers to experience the breadth and depth of the content they love in a convenient form. This is a drive to provide a single place to access that content. If you love TV you will go to it.”
BBC Worldwide chief executive, John Smith says that Apples iTunes is a disaster for rights holders, equally the laws of controlled distribution are being torn up.
So, once upon a time it was Channel 4 say Vs. ITV or Channel 5. Now its broadcasting vs. Yahoo, google, YouTube, Facebook, Virgin Media, Amazon. Perhaps the Guardian will end up making powerful news documentaries and distributing those over a digital platform. `the technology that once defined industries has been superceded by a new media ecology.
That tells us something significant about what has happened over the last 5 years.