Kangaroo will jump start VOD over the internet for its three founder broadcasters, writes Julian Clover
Once again the kangaroo is playing a significant role in the development of British broadcasting. Back in 1964 it was the symbol of the new BBC2, a live kangaroo being presented in the studio of news magazine Tonight, before one of the corporation’s now legendary power failures postponed the launch night leaving Play School as the first show on the new channel the following morning.
This time around the BBC is working with two of its commercial rivals to launch a Web-based on demand service that will offer video content from all three broadcasters. Kangaroo is a significant leap for the delivery of content over the open internet. It places the broadcasters in charge of their own destiny rather than relying on a Joost or a Babelgum to do it for them and why would they? The BBC has emerged as a significant provider of Web content, as have the leading British newspapers, even The Sun has taken to promoting its online and mobile attributes.
The average internet user must find the array of contents and formats bewildering. If it wasn’t enough for each portal to seemingly have its own technical parameters, then we all have to remember which companies offer a seven-day window on their content and where a fuller 28 days is available.
Kangaroo will not spell the end of the different strategies currently run by the three partners. Ashley Highfield, the BBC’s director of future media and technology, points out on his internet blog that whereas the BBC iPlayer will have upwards of 400 hours of content, Kangaroo will have 10,000 hours. Channel 4 has also put great store in its own 4oD video on demand service, like the BBC extending the brand from web to cable on demand.
The beauty must surely be that the viewer can go to Kangaroo, or perhaps stay with their broadcaster of choice, maybe both.
Highfield likens the iPlayer to BBC TV and Kangaroo to UKTV. The involvement of Former BSkyB director of channels and operations Lesley MacKenzie as Kangaroo’s launch CEO makes me wonder as to whether more broadcasters may be brought in from the multichannel sector.
This too must be in the mind of Sky, which will shortly unveil a new look to its Sky Anytime PC download service, available to subscribers and including movie content from its premium channels.
Kangaroo is just a working title, but whatever the brand, it will become as significant as the channels that support it.