Project Kangaroo Has This TV Viewer Jumping for Joy

Emma Hall From London

By Published on .

Slowly but surely I've come to expect ultimate control over what I watch and when I watch it, thanks to the liberating technology of Sky Plus (TiVo to you).

But I still miss things I would like to have seen, either through my own forgetfulness, recommendations that come too late, or the dreaded "failed" sign that sometimes appears next to a beloved program where it should read "recorded."
Emma Hall
Emma Hall is Advertising Age's London reporter, and likes to watch TV.

So I was delighted to learn that our three major broadcasters -- the BBC, ITV and Channel Four -- have come together to create an initiative code-named Project Kangaroo. Like Hulu in the U.S., it is a programming-on-demand web destination devised by broadcasters desperate to retain control of their assets and avoid the fate of the music industry.

It's the embodiment of WPP Group's favorite buzzword, "frenemy," which sums up the volatile state of a world where all media and tech companies are potential partners and rivals at the same time.

The idea is that we get a limited window to watch programs for free, after which we will be charged to download content. BBC viewers might be miffed that they've already paid an annual $272 license fee and wonder why they are being charged twice, but surely an advertiser-funded option must be under consideration.

Project Kangaroo will bounce into action as a PC-based service, but the broadcasters hope to extend it to cable and free view (the free-to-air digital TV package) over time. It will make life simpler, particularly if one desktop player provides access to all programs and as long as the pricing is easy to understand and implement.

Project Kangaroo will also have the benefit of combined marketing clout when it launches in mid-2008. It can promote itself on the BBC, ITV and Channel Four; it can also plant snippets on YouTube and Bebo that link back to the main site.

There is a chance, of course, that the broadcasters may already be too late. Not everyone is a mug like me; a lot of people are already getting their content for free via sharing sites like BitTorrent, not to mention YouTube and Google, and might balk at paying for it. But on the whole, a trusted, collaborative effort from our most respected broadcasters has got to be the way to go.
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