back to article TV heavyweights build on-demand supersite

The UK's top broadcasters have 'fessed up to working together on a single system for distributing TV online. ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC's commercial tentacle said today that they aim to launch the joint service on an unspecified date next year. Details are scarce in today's announcement, but we're promised "an exciting …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    Excellent news, it's like xmas come early!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "it will "complement" the BBC's existing, non-commercial iPlayer."

    Wonderful. So does that mean it will be as non-functional as the wonderful iPlayer?

  3. amanfromMars Silver badge

    InterNetworking ProtocolLed Tele Virtualisation

    "though more partners are being courted"

    I'm sure they are. And what of Future Content for Memory? What Provision has been made for ITs Store/Core Lode?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Here we go again..

    But it only works on Windoze folks??

  5. Anonymous Coward


    The downloads will be windows media formats saddled with lousy DRM and the streaming site will low resolution and unusable when more the two people are using it.

  6. Daniel Bennett
    Thumb Up


    Finally, instead of loads of programs to do the same thing for diff channels, one program for 3!

    Just hope there isn't any DRM :(

  7. martin burns
    Jobs Halo

    Wheel Re-invention

    All well and good to have the streaming content available, but making paid downloadable-to-own content available with appropriate DRM sounds like something that's already been done.

    Some fruit company or other seems to have a doodad called the iTunes Store that might just fit the bill. And then it'll play on devices that can connect to TVs, or indeed be on portable devices that are widely available.

  8. David Evans


    If it works with iPods, PSPs etc. it might be worth a look, otherwise its just the same old shit under a new label.

  9. Hugh Cowan


    How does an Expat like myself get to watch the good old British TV that I so miss? They should think of a way of letting at least British nationals across the world watch this stuff.

    Also why do all the current On-demand services require M$ Windows with Crappy IE and Crappy Media Player? These services are stifling Open Source programs.

    When will these media companies realise that they have the whole world to distribute their material to easily and cheaply. They could even bundle adverts in so they would be advertising to the whole world.

    </Rant Over>

  10. Nick


    Well, the iplayer and 4oD both use the kontiki spyware platform anyway, so I guess that it cant be too difficult to write a new front end to both servers. Then they just need to get the sky streaming advertising platform (also kontiki) onboard too and Windows users will be a happy bunch.

    Shame I run Linux.

  11. Liam

    Hugh Cowan.....

    Hugh, to be honest why should you get stuff for free that the rest of us have to pay for (well, bbc and c4 anyway - cince BBC owns a chunk of the c4 i think it subsidises it [pretty sure its paying for some of the digi conversions going on])

    im ok with you getting itv (who cares about itv anyway - what shite!) but i think the beeb are concentrating on people living abroad and all these, no offense, useless web apps and screwing all the people paying for their TV license who are getting short changed. its like all the time you hear on the radio how many countries radio1 broadcast to.... and arent we the only ones paying for it? (ok i know some yanks pay for bits but not the prices we pay)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    who remembers the BBC Creative Archive

    "The BBC Creative Archive, first announced by former BBC Director-General, Greg Dyke at the Edinburgh Television Festival in August 2003, launches in autumn 2004" (from

    Let's hope today's announcement is a bit closer to reality than the Creative Archive one was.

  13. The Douros

    @ Expat

    "How does an Expat like myself get to watch the good old British TV that I so miss?"

    It's dead easy really: Come back over here, pay TV license like the rest of us, then watch it all, to your heart's content...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It will have DRM, so it will be pointless. I'd rather just use a PVR or download via P2P, so I can watch the recording on my TV and keep it for as long as I like (just like VHS!)

  15. Anonymous John

    I recently discovered

    that the ITV website has a page that streams all its four channels. The quality isn't to bad, and better than nothing (I don't have digital TV yet).

    The downside is reliability. For a few days, trying to view ITV 4 got the message that it starts at 6.30pm. Which is true,but the message appeared long after this time. The other channels are not always available. You get a message suggesting you try another channel. Personally, I want to watch a particular programme. Not just any old programme.

    If Internet TV is to have a future, it has to be as dependable as broadcast TV.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    But the Store\Core Lode has been SUPERceded by a New Hard Point, so slow Transmigration will Enable Organic People to Have full mobile immersion.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    DRM? So?

    So it's more than likely going to be loaded with DRM. Which means you'll only be able to play it (probably) on Windows.

    The TV people will play to the majority of viewers and try to get them using the service. That'll Mr and Mrs Bloggs and their teenage daughter who live down the road with their Dell, Windows XP/Vista and Windows Media Player who make up the majority of home computer users. Those are the people who watch their shows and who will want to catch up and watch them again. The readers on this site may have a majority of Linux users, but that's not the case in the rest of the world.

  18. Craig


    "an exciting collection of over 10,000 hours of the very best of the UK broadcasters' current and archive programming"

    Sure. There's probably only about 1,000hrs of decent stuff between the lot of them. I'd prefer they spent the money on better, original programs than them sticking thier current guff into an ppv internet trough for us to feast upon.

  19. amanfromMars Silver badge

    A Quantum Leap into Popular Media Leadership?

    "Let's hope today's announcement is a bit closer to reality than the Creative Archive one was."

    The Dilemma/Opportunity is that with Creativity in Programming, IT begins 42 Lead. Did it not result in Mr Dyke's removal?

  20. Andrew Herron
    Thumb Down

    Lower quality & time expired...

    Hmmm... as i have said a couple time before about all of the TV download services...

    Why would I want to download a low quality TV program, that time expires and in some cases needs to be paid for when I can record full quality programs of air, with no DRM and watch them as often as i like... I don't get the compelling proposition here at all?

  21. Hugh Cowan

    @ Liam and The Douros

    How do you know that I don't pay for a TV licence? It would have been possible for me to continue paying it via direct debit. I haven't but I could have done!

    Correct me if I'm wrong though... The TV licence only pays for the BBC. I already watch their news content via the BBC website (when it works and yes I'm a Linux user using the BBC News website!) and I listen to their radio station online sometimes... all without a license.

    So excluding the BBC...why can't the other channels have some way of telling that I'm a British national and letting me watch their content on demand? Oh and I also watch the latest headlines from Sky News via Miro.

  22. xjy

    The effort they put into crippling everything!

    Doncha love capitalism! The technology to beam culture, debate, news and entertainment everywhere has been available for over a decade. So what do the leaders of our society do with it?? Cripple, strangle, maim, shred, manacle, bin and gouge! Every innovation is riddled with depleted uranium dum-dum bullets. Freedom of thought, exchange of experience and ideas, globalization of progress MY ARSE!

    Corporate greed against consumers, citizens, taxpayers and humanity. Backed by lickspittle government stooges. The system of private profit has never been in such open and obvious conflict with the public interest as today.

    This issue of publicly funded programming being made available internationally could be solved by reciprocal agreements between publicly funded producers, all license payers being able to access such material from any producer regardless of origin. No-brainer.

    But at the moment it's being crushed by deliberate government sabotage. Public producers are FORBIDDEN to compete effectively with private ones. That would be unfair on the poor darlings. Universal access to public programming would naturally wipe out the ad-ridden shit being sprayed over us all today.

    The message of today is not "Big Brother is watching you" - that's old stuff... it's "You are watching Big Brother". The mind-forged manacles grip tighter...

  23. Chad H.


    I love it. Launch soon... Please!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Why would I want to download a low quality TV program, that time expires and in some cases needs to be paid for when I can record full quality programs of air, with no DRM and watch them as often as i like... "

    Because you might have forgotten to tape something and your video can't travel back in time.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Dont slag it or you'll be savaged by the fox.

  26. Anonymous John

    Re arf

    There are a number of old sitcoms I'd like to see again. Such as -

    Chance In A Million

    It Takes a Worried Man

    The Brothers McGregor

  27. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Slow is also Good .... said the Tortoise to the Hare

    Anon.C ..... Posted Tuesday 27th November 2007 13:11 GMT..... "But the Store\Core Lode has been SUPERceded by a New Hard Point, so slow Transmigration will Enable Organic People to Have full mobile immersion."

    All Speed would be Relative and Subjectively Appropriate to Desire and Intellectual Endeavour/Neural Activity [for you don't have to be Clever to be SMART when Attentive and Receptive also schools well]

  28. The Douros


    "why can't the other channels have some way of telling that I'm a British national and letting me watch their content on demand?"

    Hmm, dunno... maybe because access to particular channels is not an automatic privilege linked to British nationality? Or maybe because the only way to check your British nationality is to check your passport number through the home office? You choose...

  29. Steve Anderson


    It will inevitably use Kontiki.

    Therefore, once a minute it will churn up the CPU cycles at 100%, making it impossible to do anything (including getting the Task Manager up to try and kill it). It will see bandwidth as a tasty snack as it attempts to offload content that you're not even interested in off the BBC/ITV/Channel 4 servers on to cheap, gullible simpletons. It will keep running, regardless of whether you think it's running, until you get savvy enough to realise that you want to kill the KService.exe task and not just the client, which will crash all the time because of vulnerabilities in IE's scripting engine, which is what the client actually is.

    In short, it'll be an absolute friggin mess, and still - STILL - people will try and shift the blame to Linux users for mentioning anything in the first place.

  30. Hugh Cowan

    @The Douros

    I was thinking of this and if someone is desperate enough to watch TV from back home then they may be willing to give out Passport details. Personally I'm not that desperate to watch british TV.

    Anyway after all this discussing I use Linux and I checked ITV on-demand and 4od and neither of them support it anyway. So I think we should wait until they realise that the internet was designed as a multi-platform system before we complain about overseas people watching. One baby step at a time......

  31. David Hancock


    "cince BBC owns a chunk of the c4 i think it subsidises it"

    Er, naw. Channel 4, the station, is owned by and operated by the Channel Four Television Corporation, which is a public body. The channel is entirely self-funded through advertising and other commercial activity - it does not receive any public money or licence fees.

    That's why we have to sit through Big Brother every year.

  32. David Evans

    @ The Douros

    Actually there is a way of authenticating eligability to watch British TV, the TV licence. If the BBC developed an auth system for licence holders (probably for far less then they've wasted on iPlayer) then we can have the content we've already paid for irrespective of location, and it would solve a bunch of rights issues to boot. It would probably help licence fee renewals as well, but getting the back end right isn't as glamorous as "look at us we're doing tv on the internet, aren't we cool?"

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Anderson

    The 100% cycles only occurs when downloading, I emailed process explore logs of this issue through to the iPlayer team but got nowt in response. shows their dedication. It really is unbelievable when you look at the resources for say any other P2P Client and compare, its pathetic, unbelievably crap considering how much they spent. Yes it is the worlds crapest software... there I've done it its worse than Microsoft!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ David Evans

    "Actually there is a way of authenticating eligability to watch British TV, the TV licence. If the BBC developed an auth system for licence holders (probably for far less then they've wasted on iPlayer) then we can have the content we've already paid for irrespective of location, and it would solve a bunch of rights issues to boot."

    It wouldn't solve any rights issues at all. The BBC buy rights buy territory and time period, because that how rights are sold in all media industries and they have to buy the same way as everyone else to avoid conflicting with exclusive deals made with other broadcasters in other territories. You have not "paid" for this content - you just paid to rent it. If you want the BBC to buy it for you instead, expect an £800 - 900 per year licence fee.

  35. stuart meadowcroft

    And again.

    several good points well made, none more so that that last one.

    that said, Licence fee=£13/month for poo service of repeats, soap and "reality" rubbish.


  36. The Douros

    @ Hugh, David

    @ David:

    "Actually there is a way of authenticating eligability to watch British TV, the TV licence."

    That was exactly my point, a few comments further up. My gut feeling is that a web account with username+password linked to a TV license number (i.e. login unsuccessful if license has gone overdue) should do the trick. That, of course, would blow the current licensing model which is per address (and, secondly, by person in certain circumstances), but I am sure it would be possible to design a reasonable alternative.

    My objection to Hugh was the suggestion of eligibility based on nationality (it's not a civil right, dammit, it's a paid-for service...)

    @ Hugh:

    "Personally I'm not that desperate to watch british TV"

    Ah - now you're talking sense (especially when it comes to ITV...)

  37. Craig
    Black Helicopters

    Re arf : Anonymous John

    I'm not saying there's some good, curious or even original programming, I'm just concerned that we'll get force fed the property/car boot/reality crap. You have to admit, the chaff does outweigh the wheat big style. It isn't a question of taste either, it really is cheap "lowest common denominator" stuff. It seems pretty much everything is made to be accessible by cretinous, dribbling apes. Just look at the poor quality of Panorama, Horizon, etc. It's embarrasing and I have very little to watch as a result.

    I'd love to go through the archives of the BBC, when care was taken with programming, but I can't see us getting this. Also goes to prove a point that the best stuff was long ago.

    Very few chances are taken nowadays, unless it's a "wacky" variant on a laboured style.

    Still, at least TV is a place for all those obsequious sychophants to work. That or politics.

    I feel a whole essay coming on so I'll stop now. :)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Use the on demand services....

    and fall fowl of virgin medias acceptable use policy!

    a couple of weeks ago i was away and decided to catch up on a few programs i missed, notched them up to download on 4od and iplayer and forgot about them until they downloaded... my problem was that i couldn't request the size of download and like most people had my computer turned on at peak times.

    Low and behold i had my bandwidth throtteled this week to 200kbs as i was one of the top 5% of peak time downloaders. Top Gear was 700+ mb ffs!!! for a quality pretty much no different from the 350mb Xvid encoded heroes episode I bittorrented this week.

    These catch-up services are good if they fall in acceptable use.

    Oh and in case any chips in with why don't you get a pvr, I don't get a freeview signal, virgin won't put cable into my flat and i live in a listed building which can't have a dish put on!

  39. David Evans

    Re: Auth via Licence fee

    The current rights model is already broken; devices like Slingbox see to that (in the "legitimate" sphere). Surely if anyone is going to change the broken rights model its a behemoth like the BBC. And you're not telling me that the likes of Apple don't want to do this as well. All comes down to failure of imagination and a lack of understanding of why people use these kinds of services in the first place.

  40. Martin Owens
    IT Angle


    >> and arent we the only ones paying for it?

    Well no because the government fund the BBC in order "to spread the British culture around the world" just so other countries are sympathetic to our country. And to be honest if we could get over the over protective nonsense, culturally we could do very well out of letting the rest of the world see our stuff.

    >> it's not a civil right, dammit, it's a paid-for service

    No it's a paid by tax, social service (the BBC); if you want to be in the British Society then you should access to the BBC and we should be happy to welcome people to the fold.

  41. John A Blackley

    To Echo Cowan

    While it's a wonderful service - being able to stream tv programs to my computer (after all, think of all the times when I'm in the UK/Eire. connected to broadband and yet miles away from a television), I WOULD really like this service when I'm travelling (stuck in a foreign hotel room with choices like The Flintstones dubbed in German).

    As to the usual El Reg "ya boo" suspects, I do pay a television license in the UK and, were that not true, I would pay a subscription to view 'home' television.

    Is there really that big an audience inside the UK for this service (vs. the potential audience outside - temporarily or permanently)?

  42. Anonymous Coward

    To xjy re 'the effort they put into crippling everything'



    That is all.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Are we really ready?

    Why spend all this money to produce a system which, given the incredibly poor broadband service we have in this country, will only deliver a very inferior product?

    I would rather see the money spent on a real "high speed" data network first so that when we do want to watch the odd decent programme, at least we will be able to see it at the same production quality as it was originally broadcast in.

    I would rather buy the DVD and be able to play it anywhere I like, as often as I like and for as long as I like and at a quality that does justice to the original production.

    I suspect that the majority of "ordinary" viewers will probably feel the same, otherwise, why are new HD TVs and Home Cinema products selling so well? You would hardly want to feed low res downloads onto your new TV.

    It strikes me that all the money currently being spent on web enabled TV distribution is being done to justify some marketing initiative rather than meet the needs of the ordinary licence payer. I'm all for high tech leading edge developement when it improves the user experience but the inevitable end result of this project will only supply an inferior product that will lead to user dissatisfaction. The words "shoot" and "foot" spring to mind.

  44. Chris O'Shea
    Thumb Up

    BBC LIcence Fee

    £10.96/month (with discounts for various people such as the blind and the elderly)

    which is spent as follows (according to their website)

    £7.54 - Eight national TV stations plus regional programming

    £1.17 - Ten national radio stations

    £0.75 - Forty local radio stations

    £0.49 - Over 240 websites

    £1.01 - transmission costs and other costs including TV licence collection

    And somewhere in there is the subsidy for helping Channel 4 switch over to digital broadcasting and for the rest of the big digital switchover so the government can sell off the old analog channels.

    As a "public service" broadcaster, the BBC service is available in much the same way that schools, rubbish collection, NHS hospitals etc. are. Even if you don't use the services, there's a cost that is spread among a larger group of people. To make it a little "fairer", they only charge the licence fee from people that have some sort of TV receiver (even if it is a tuner card in a PC that is only used to watch ITV). And for reasons I haven't seen explained, they make the websites and such available to people in other countries at no cost (though they do add advertising to some websites such as BBC News).

    And to help fund the BBC, they have groups such as BBC Enterprises/Worldwide which sell BBC productions to other countries and then use the money to help make more programming and keep the licence fee down.

    I *do* think that if you have a TV licence you should be allowed to watch TV whereever you are (in the world). But then I'd expect the TV licence to become more of a "per person" rather than "per household" fee, and perhaps rolled into general taxation which would make it harder to give individual discounts based on disability or age (would have to be refunded via tax credits and/or higher pensions etc.)

    However I can't see why my licence fee money is being spent on making EastEnders. The Archers at least has some nearly subliminal information about farming policies, innoculations, European regulations etc. encoded into it, but EastEnders appears to have no socially redeeming or educational content at all. Even something like The Weakest Link is promoting knowledge and belitting ignorance, so it has some societal value.

    Actually, I take it back about EastEnders ... they *do* try to show people getting on in a multi-cultural society and occasionally have story lines about things like Breast Cancer and Spousal Abuse which are then supported through information and support lines after the show ... so as a form of societal normalisation and encouraging tolerance and such I'll grudgingly accept it.

    Now buying in Neighbours or some other foreign soap, less good ...

    Even Top Gear has shown me parts of the world (the Polar Ice Caps and parts of Africa) in an entertaining way that was also educational and made me want to find out more about them (much the same as Long Way Down), and I have no objection to being entertained as part of my licence fee (education doesn't have to be boring, dull or tedious, and not everything has to be educational every moment it is on).

    Sorry about that, drifted off into a rant ... :-)

    I pay for schools, though I have no children, plus a lot of other services for society that I use to a greater or lesser extent ... because being part of a society means that we each have to play a role whether it is as a giver or receiver or both. The child that gets educated with my money this year, may be my doctor, MP or plumber in ten years time, and I'd like to hope they'd be good at their job.

    So I'm happy to pay for all the BBC services (like 1Xtra and UK Parliament) that I'll probably never use as part of being British and living in this society ... and knowing that somewhere there's a 1Xtra or 5Live listener (with a TV licence!) that's helping to sponsor next year's BBC Radio 2 Cambridge Folk Festival :-)

    And in the meantime, if I want to watch/listen to BBC content while travelling, I'll either download it in the UK and stick it on my iPod to watch/listen to later, or I'll invest in something like a Slingbox so I can watch it on my phone/PC while travelling.

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