Canvas will cover 3.5m homes by 2014

Screen Digest believes that a hybrid open IPTV platform such as that proposed by the BBC and its partners will reach 3.5 million homes by 2014.

Dan Cryan, Senior Analyst says: "The BBC’s track record of building markets with Freeview and the iPlayer has been a well-documented success. There is every reason to think that if a Canvas-type proposition is approved, with the full promotional impetus of the BBC behind it, it will reach at least 3.5 million homes by 2014.

Such a platform is both a threat and an opportunity to pay-TV operators. On the one hand giving them wider distribution potential for their content bouquets, and on the other hand giving content owners a potential route to bypass the operators and go direct to the consumer."

A Canvas-type proposition will offer an alternative, neutrally-branded distribution platform offering linear TV channels, video on demand and web-based applications. Ultimately, it will rival IPTV, cable and satellite and will be separate from the existing Freeview, Freesat and BT Vision offerings.

But a Canvas-type propostion has a number of obstacles to address; set top boxes will be expensive and the timing may coincide uncomfortably for consumers with the launch of HD Freeview.