UK broadcasters ‘close’ to single unified streaming app

UK broadcasters are hopeful of reaching agreement by November to create a single streaming app that would act as a gateway to their catch-up and on-demand services, according to a report in the Telegraph newspaper.

According to the newspaper, the UK public service broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – began talking in earnest about the proposal early this year but are now seeking to reach agreement as a matter of urgency to meet deadlines for inclusion of their joint app on the latest generation of smart TVs to be released next year.

The project, which is being discussed under the aegis of Freeview, the broadcasters’ previous highly successful joint project to create a single digital-terrestrial TV platform, has as its aim to create a simpler navigation experience for viewers faced with a growing array of choice from global streaming giants.

According to the Telegraph, citing unnamed sources, the goal is to create a single joint app that would surface content from all the broadcasters that could be viewed direct or could take viewers through to the individual participants’ streaming services – BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and My5.

The report also says that the project could also see dedicated buttons for the app on TV remotes, as is already done by Netflix in a number of cases.

The Telegraph says that the broadcasters are looking to strike deal with TV manufacturers first to secure distribution on the next wave of smart TVs, followed by streaming devices and finally pay TV platforms such as Sky.

“In terms of targeting consumers, such joint initiative from broadcasters improves content discoverability and viewer “retention”. In our bi-annual consumer survey when we asked respondents “On an average day, how do you most often choose what you want to watch?”, the most popular answer among UK consumers was “Flicking through channels and services” (27% of respondents). This joint initiative will encourage this type of content discovery,” commented Marija Masalskis, senior principal analyst, TV, video and advertising at DTVE’s sister research house, Omdia.

“In terms of targeting advertisers, connected TV is currently the most dynamic segment of advertising market in North America and Western Europe. We see a lot of land-grab going on in this space – this market is the most natural successor to linear TV as ratings decline and advertisers shift budgets to digital. It doesn’t look like there are currently any details on if and how this agreement between UK broadcasters will be leveraged for advertising sales. However, broadcaster alliances are a great strategy to achieve the scale and secure first party data that are critical in order to be competitive in the CTV market against Google and newly emergent aggregators such as Samsung TV.”

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