IPTV service Project Canvas gathers momentum

UK public broadcaster the BBC has been greenlighted to spearhead the development of Project Canvas, an internet TV platform designed to drive supply and demand of online, interactive TV services.

The BBC Trust – the corporation’s governing body – made the decision to allow BBC involvement this week after an extensive consultation. However, the trust said it will review the BBC’s involvement in the project 12 months after Canvas launches to consumers.

Other stakeholders in the initiative include Channel 4, Carphone Warehouse-owned TalkTalk, ITV, Five, and BT, giving the project a full complement of UK broadcasters as well as communications infrastructure and media services company Arqiva

The platform created by Project Canvas aims to bring together linear TV and internet-based applications – creating an upgrade for the UK’s existing free-to-air TV platforms Freeview and Freesat, and giving TV audiences open access to a wide range of internet-based services.

Consumers would then be able to access a number of on demand media services over the internet, such as films and music, as well as popular web services such as YouTube, Twitter, and Google Mail, all through the TV.

The first Canvas-certified equipment, probably set top boxes, is to go on sale before Christmas 2010, because of the start of high definition terrestrial Freeview broadcasts. If consumers buy a new set top box to allow them to receive the HD Freeview content before Canvas boxes are on the market it is thought they will be less receptive to buying another new set top box -a Canvas-enabled one so soon after.

In the wake of its decision to allow BBC involvement, BBC Trust spokeswoman Diane Coyle said the partnership “will deliver significant public value for licence fee payers. People with a broadband connection will be able to access a wide range of on-demand content including BBC iPlayer, free of charge, through their TV sets.”

However, the trust has also imposed several conditions on the BBC, which will see to it that: viewers must be able to watch BBC programmes without a subscription; other broadcasters and content providers must have access to the platform; technical specifications must be published within 20 working days of the Trust’s approval, to allow broadcasters and set-top box manufacturers to adapt to the Canvas standard; the final core specifications must be published no later than eight months before set-top boxes are launched. The Trust will also review the signposting of content and parental controls at a later date.

In related news, the BBC’s popular iPlayer app is now available on Android although only on the latest version 2.2, known as FroYo, which supports Flash 10.1.

Earlier this year, the UK broadcaster announced record breaking requests through its iPlayer application. During the month of January, requests for the BBC iPlayer across all devices including Virgin TV, topped 120 million, driven by on demand viewing.

While iPlayer is used for TV at roughly the same time of day as linear TV viewing, on demand makes up the great majority of TV programme requests with only 8 per cent of requests were for live simulcast streams, although two thirds of requests for radio streams are for live programmes.

One comment

  1. Avatar Ian 28/06/2010 @ 2:54 pm

    Will you be able to watch project canvas abroad through a vpn like you can watch bbc iplayer thanks

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