It’s official: broadcast technology provider Arqiva has signed an agreement to buy the remains of the ill-fated Project Kangaroo VOD JV from shareholders BBC Worldwide, ITV (LSE: ITV) and Channel 4. The company says the software and hardware devloped for the project — which was banned after a Competion Commission ruling in February — will be the tech platform for “a new VOD service in the coming months“, which will have both free and paid-for “high-quality long-form content from both leading broadcasters and independent content providers”. Release.
– Done deal?: The deal isn’t complete yet: the company expects it to be wrapped up in the coming weeks and, tellingly, a price isn’t mentioned — Arqiva has only “agreed to buy”. The Competition Commission tells us any Kangaroo buyer wouldn’t need to seek its approval for a deal to go ahead.
– Role extension: Arqiva is the main terrestrial TV frequency carrier in the UK and is playing a major role in the digital switchover — and as we noted yesterday, it’s not exactly known for its online publishing efforts in any format. MD for terrestrial broadcast Steve Holebrook simply says online VOD is an extension of the company’s strategy: “Arqiva and its direct predecessors have been delivering linear analogue and digital TV services to UK viewers for many decades and we’re currently upgrading the TV network to deliver DSO (digital switchover). We believe that online video-on-demand is an exciting and complementary development.” The announcement points out that Kangaroo was close to being launched before being shot down, so presumably there isn’t that much work to do
– Broadcasters’ opportunies: Arqiva naturally has good links with all UK broadcasters — now all potential customers for its VOD platform. If it goes to plan, this could be a welcome avenue for the former Kangaroo partners — and the rival broadcasters that loudly complained about it — an avenue to monetise their expensive-to-make long-form content. ITV and Channel 4 have both moved to seek their own VOD solutions post-Kangaroo. It remains to be seen whether Arqiva plans to run the service as a white label video distribution service, as a branded consumer product, or both.