The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are considering a joint venture that could pool their broadband video download programming. Known as ‘Project Kangaroo,’ it aims to do for broadband video what Freeview did for digital terrestrial television.

The broadcasters have either launched or are preparing to launch broadband video download services, but based on their own dedicated online properties. The BBC originally led the way with its proposed peer-to-peer service, which has yet to launch. Meanwhile, Channel 4 has launched its own 4oD proposition, based on the same Kontiki platform provided by ioko. This week ITV launched a streaming service. All three use Microsoft digital rights management to provide content protection.

It would clearly make more sense for consumers to offer this programming through a single service. The obvious model is Freeview, the marketing company and consumer brand for digital terrestrial television in the United Kingdom, which is jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, BSkyB and National Grid Wireless.

Initially aimed at downloads to personal computers, the proposed joint venture could ultimately deliver downloads over broadband to set-top boxes, enabling them to be more easily viewed on television screens.

The platform might also be made available to other broadcasters and programme providers. However, the provision of an open platform is not without technical and operational issues.

The Digital Television Group may have a key role to play as a platform neutral and technology agnostic industry association. An industry-led approach based on open standards would benefit consumers an enable a competitive horizontal market for compatible consumer electronics products that has contributed to the success of Freeview.

BT Vision has already launched a proprietary hybrid broadcast and broadband service, based on a digital video recorder that can receive both digital terrestrial television channels and video-on-demand delivered over broadband. Other operators are also planning to offer similar services.