Kangaroo technology may bounce back

The technology developed for the now defunct Kangaroo online TV service could still be used despite the project being blocked by the Competition Commission
Written by Tim Ferguson, Contributor on

The technology developed for the now defunct Kangaroo online TV service could still be used despite the project being blocked by the Competition Commission.

The joint venture, which involved the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4, was given the red light after it was deemed to be a threat to competition in the developing video on-demand market.

Speaking to ZDNet UK's sister site, silicon.com, an ITV spokeswoman said the three broadcasters will speak to the Competition Commission about how the prohibition will be enforced.

"It's not about resurrecting Kangaroo in a different form, it's about what the three [broadcasters] are allowed to do together moving forwards and the assets that [we have]. Is there anything that one of us could do with the technology behind that, for example."

"If we can reuse the technology in any way then I'm sure we would look to do that. If it's commercially viable, we'll look at it," she added.

The spokeswoman also noted that when work on Kangaroo started, ITV's online on-demand service, called ITV Player, was in its infancy. Now the service has matured, it could be a potential home for the archived content that had been set for Kangaroo.

There has been speculation that BT or Sky could be interested in the technology developed for Kangaroo. While both companies declined to comment on Kangaroo, such a union would make sense for the telco, according to Nick Thomas, consumer product strategy analyst at Forrester Research.

"It would seem unfortunate if that technology were to be left on the shelf. I can't believe that's going to be the case," he told silicon.com.

"[BT's IPTV service] BT Vision is not a product that's becoming mainstream… it may be that [BT] needs the injection of some really interesting technology that will really make the difference."

Thomas added: "BT is clearly desperate to up their role in this [and] needs to make a strategic decision that it wants to be involved in the content business."

It would appear Sky is unlikely to be interested however, as the broadcaster has its own online catch-up service, Sky Player, and is working on connecting its HD service to broadband.

Thomas said efforts by the BBC, BT and ITV to create a common standard for internet-distributed content to work on television sets — known as Project Canvas — is likely to be more significant than Kangaroo could have been.

Canvas will essentially be an upgrade of the current Freeview digital service with the added capability of connecting to online content.

Thomas said: "Several observers have been saying actually Canvas is the one to watch and what will emerge is that Canvas will be a big BBC project with big implications for all the other content providers as well."

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