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BBC and ITV reportedly discussing online streaming JV again

By | Published on Friday 11 March 2016


The BBC has reportedly had talks with other broadcasters, including ITV, about possibly setting up a combined subscription video-on-demand service, taking on the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime by raiding the participating broadcasters’ vast content archives.

According to The Guardian, discussions between rival broadcasters are very much at an early stage so far, and neither the BBC nor ITV would comment on the speculation. But commentators reckon that such a joint venture, that could involve other broadcasters too, would ally with the current strategies of the bosses of both the BBC and ITV, Tony Hall and Adam Crozier respectively.

If this is all sounding a little familiar, it’s because the BBC and ITV collaborated on a video-on-demand platform once before, in part inspired by Hulu, the streaming service set up by US broadcasters NBC, Fox and ABC. Originally going by the bizarre name Project Kangaroo, and later rebranded as SeeSaw, that JV – which also involved Channel 4 – was ultimately blocked by competition regulators. The broadcasters sold the platform they had built to Arquiva who, for a short time, ran it as an ad-funded and pay-to-view service.

But it’s thought there wouldn’t be similar competition concerns this time, partly because the proposed service wouldn’t seek too many exclusives content wise, plus there are now sufficient other competitors in the market – YouTube in addition to Netflix and Amazon – that the prospect of conventional broadcasters colluding is less of an issue. Plus, despite Project Kangaroo being blocked by the regulator, the BBC and ITV did then collaborate with other broadcasters on the set-top-box-based video-on-demand service YouView.

For both the BBC and ITV, any new online service would be about driving all-important new revenues, especially beyond the UK, primarily by exploiting existing content and brands, especially those shows made by their own in-house production divisions where they are much more likely to control online and international rights.