Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Ten Years Gone

A bit more than a decade ago I was sitting in our start up offices in the basement of a building somewhere in the area of London north of Oxford Street, an area called Noho.

I jokingly mentioned to my co-founder that,as far as internet TV was concerned, this could stand for 'no hope', as we began to question if anyone would ever watch long form programming over the internet.

So, the news today that the BBC is turning its youth channel, BBC3 into an online only outlet marks the real tipping point.

At the time, around 2003, we were running the cable company Telewest's online video (this became Virgin media's first online video service after they merged with NTL) and I was trying to persuade various people at the cableco to give up on all their cable channels and have just one pipe going into the home with an infinite number of IP channels. As the company launches ever faster pipes for its domestic customers, and has long since given up being a content owner, a decade later it seems that the model I was pushing for was right, albeit a tad early.

But there is a problem with the BBC's plans. Thy are obliged to provide equivalent services to every licence holder and many people in the UK, as I have often blogged, scandalously simply do not have the bandwidth to stream video at any time of day or night.

The model for launching online only channels is now well proven, but I'm not sure if the UK's broadband infrastructure is good enough for a public service broadcaster to be treading this path.