One of the keywords of the coming year is flexibility: the ability to watch what you want, when you want and where you want. TV channels have already done there bit and have set up their separate on demand services allowing you to watch programmes that have you’ve missed (or that you really want to see again) when you want by streaming or downloading them off the internet.
Following the path set by the BBC iPlayer, Channel 4 and ITV set up their respective services (along with many other channels) and although this allowed you to watch vast amounts of TV on demand after their original viewing date it was still irritating to have to download all three services and have to use the different systems. So a solution was born — Kangaroo — which would unite them all, but unfortunately it has been derailed.
But why would it be so great anyway? Basically by unifying all three services it would be able to use the best bits of each and thus create a truly flexible system. For example as it stands Mac users cannot use 4OD (Channel 4’s service) and the ITV equivalent is pretty much unavailable to mobile users. By unifying all three of these Kangaroo aimed to remove these problems and provide a flexible service where everybody could watch a wide variety of TV through a wide variety of methods.
The concept surfaced in June 2007 and has been under construction since then, but as they reached the finishing straight a problem arose. The problem was our good friend (or rather collection of friends), the Competition Commission.
If you follow the technology world closely you will already know of how much trouble can arise when competition practices are not considered and anyone from Microsoft will happily tell you about how they have been sued twice for ‘killing the competition’ in the case of Windows Defender (which has now been removed) and IE (where they may now have to ship other web browsers with Windows).
This is a crushing blow not only for the Kangaroo team but also for the general public for whom the advantages would be numerous. But the Competition Commission do have a fair point, the report states:
“[It would] enable the parties to offer less attractive terms to customers, resulting in viewers paying higher prices for some content, paying for a higher proportion of content, and/or receiving lower quality or less innovative offers.”
Whilst some of you may be wondering where the talks of cost comes from (the iPlayer for example is free, which does give you free tv video online), but you have to remember that being free at the point of delivery is far from being the same as open to competition, and that charges will apply to films and some old/imported TV programmes.
Unfortunately this is very true, and you can see easily how this would reduce competition resulting in the three channels working together creating a massive market ‘power’. But it is still a shame as I am sure it would have been great — fortunately the three companies can still find a different solution that will hopefully comply with the laws, but that will come as little comfort to the people who worked on Kangaroo. RIP!
Source – Telegraph