Saturday, March 7, 2009

BBC Canvas to Compete with BT Vision IPTV

The BBC is considering its Canvas Project that will compete with BT's BT Vision IPTV service.

The BBC is seeking permission to form a new joint venture partnership with other broadcasters and Internet Service Providers to define and promote a set of standards for digital television delivered via broadband Internet connections (IPTV) as well as digital broadcasts via DSat and DTT.

Users would need to buy a new set top box or other device which takes its broadcast signal from an aerial, like Freeview, or from a satellite dish, like Freesat.

Canvas users would also require a broadband connection to take advantage of on-demand features. They would need to:
  • Subscribe to a broadband service which usually carries a monthly fee, or
  • Utilise their existing broadband connection. It is possible they may need to
  • upgrade their existing broadband packages to a faster connection, or
  • upgrade their existing broadband packages to one which allows greater volumes of data downloads
The BBC said that Canvas would help protect the competitiveness of free-to-air platforms (like Freeview) and allow audiences who do not wish to pay for subscription television services to access a range of on-demand and linear services.

It wishes to develop Canvas in conjunction with the planned launch of HD services on the DTT platform (Freeview). Subject to approval, Canvas would launch at some point in 2010.

This is an interesting approach by a broadcaster to utilize broadband to reach its audience in addition to its over the air broadcasting. It looks very much like BT Vision to me. I wonder how BT will survive with this kind of competition from the broadcaster. This is a model that could be exported to other countries and create a new competitor to the existing Pay TV outlets.


Ashu Joshi said...

I believe the BBC Trust is going to render their decision in July.

Isn't the current iPlayer model already hurting BT Vision?

Bob Larribeau said...

It is difficult to say how much the iPlayer has hurt BT Vision or any of the other pay TV services in the UK. The BT Vision set-top box replaces the Freeview box at not additional cost, which makes it an attractive alternative for homes without cable or satellite services.

I think the iPlayer is being adopted by early adopters today. These people are less concerned about issues like dealing with multiple set-top boxes. I would not be surprised to find that most iPlayer users also subscriber to cable, satellite, or BT Vision services.

I think the real battle is ahead of us as iPlayer and other over the top services become more attractive to main stream TV viewers.

Bob Larribeau