Tuesday, 27 November 2007

ALERT! Kangaroo on the Rampage

So a while back I was moaning, sorry, commenting about how in this wondrous age of Video on Demand I had to download so many program’s to watch my regular UK TV shows (iPlayer, 4oD, Joost, Babelgum). I commented how it’s like having to have a different set top box for each channel, which was unsustainable.

Now we are about to see disruptive Digital, disrupted, oddly enough by the old skool ‘traditional media’ with the official announcement of project ‘Kangaroo’. Nice summary here from the Guardian, but essentially it’s the BBC and Channel 4 dumping (sorry, building on the success of) their current (Kontiki based) players, and joined by ITV who had been using an ‘in-browser’ player.

Now this is massive, it’s an ‘iPod’ moment for TV in the UK market. Kangaroo is already being compared to Freeview in its capability to cut through to a being a fairly instant mass market proposition. It will have all your favourite shows and soap operas – it will have such a massive position in the marketplace other (mass market) rights holders from US Studios, through to indie production companies, to ‘new’ players in the market (such as newspaper’s who make video content) will all want to be represented on this platform.

I have 0% doubt in the success of Kangaroo as it will have the content... and not just in a ‘name the 3 hit shows we have’ and expect people to use our service way, it will have the vast bulk of hit UK TV shows/brands and I expect a lot of the international ones. I wonder whether Hulu will snowball like Kangaroo to dominate the US market as much.

The service will no doubt hit some bumps, but ultimately the nature of the content will mean it will prevail.

Some bumps that immediately come to mind include:

- The ISP’s moaning about the P2P networking clogging up their systems (and I expect it will be P2P)

- The BBC Trust wrestling with the restrictions they’ve imposed on the iPlayer, probably after public confusion when ITV allow series stacking of shows like Emmerdale, but the BBC won’t allow you to stack (series record) Eastenders. (The BBC Trust put some fairly random restrictions it to supposedly stop the BBC stifling the commercial market)

- TV Broadcasters and Rights Holders having to bring their Rights issues more into line across the market place

- Working out ‘comparable’ price points and attitude to how to include advertising

- Ofcom reaching out to regulate ‘NuTV’ after the next ‘phone-in’ type scandal

Some other questions raised straight away are what about Five, Sky, what about Endemol and Fremantle and their respective strategies. What about then for that matter, Nickelodeon, what about Information TV and movies 24??

Will Kangaroo be an open access system, or a way of the incumbents and big players protecting their dominant position from news smaller players?

Kangaroo is no doubt fantastic news for the average viewer who just wants their favourite shows.

I don’t see this being a problem for the social networks per say as their nascent media services and shows would be complementary – and I’m sure deals would be done to encourage the average Bebo or FaceBook user to go to Kangaroo and download the latest episode of the Mighty Boosh or Entourage.

I don’t think the situation is so clear for the likes of Joost or Babelgum who, in the UK at least are seeing their first mover advantage slip away.

More on this tomorrow.

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