The BBC is to premiere some of its comedy programmes on the web, while Channel 4 is reported to be planning to stream its entire television output over broadband.
Episodes of the new series of its comedy The Mighty Boosh will be available on the web seven days in advance of transmission on BBC Three and for seven days after the final programme of the series is shown.
“The broadband premiere of The Mighty Boosh is a significant step forward in offering our audiences even greater value in a changing television world,” said Jana Bennett, director of television at the BBC. “It is one of a number of pilots that BBC Television will be undertaking over the next few months, exploiting the opportunities that new technologies offer to look at how programmes might be delivered beyond the traditional linear broadcast.”
It follows a continuing trial in which satellite viewers are offered a choice of three additional programmes from BBC Three on Sunday nights.
Stuart Murphy, the controller of BBC Three, said that it is a natural progression to make programmes available on broadband: “Crucially, it can deliver a television experience whenever people want it.”
Except that it is not on television. However, an increasing number of devices enable material on the web to be streamed directly to a television display.
Anything up to seven million homes in the UK now have broadband access, over half of all internet connections, about the same number of homes that have digital terrestrial television.
The number of on demand or unicast streams that the broadcasters such as the BBC can currently support over broadband is relatively limited. AOL managed to serve 175,000 simultaneous streams during the recent Live 8 concerts, which is believed to be a record.
However, using a system such as multicast, currently available only through a limited number of service providers, any number of users could potentially be provided with live streams.
Channel 4, which currently has a limited range of programmes available on the web, is apparently planning to simulcast all of its television content on broadband, although this could present significant issues with programme rights.
The channel says it is in the process of developing its broadband strategy and will be making further announcements in the coming months.