Will the kangaroo ever jump? That’s the question observers of the UK’s online media market are asking these days, where the BBC and the public broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 are planing to jointly launch a Hulu-like, video-on-demand web site code-named Project Kangaroo. The site was scheduled to go live this January, but has been held up by regulators looking into claims that the joint venture would stifle competition. A final verdict by the UK’s Competition Commission is expected to be cast any day now.
As is to be expected, Project Kangaroo does not have the support of media giants like Sky and Virgin, nor of online video startups like Joost and Babelgum, but it’s unclear how much the competition is really going to gain if the project fails. A new study reveals that the lack of video-on-demand options in the UK has, to a large degree, benefited torrent sites and less-than-legal YouTube clones. The “VOD State of Play” study, which was published today by Essential Research, concludes that 24 percent of the UK’s online video consumers get their TV fix from torrents and similar sources.