ABC launches internet TV

Australia’s public service broadcaster the ABC has followed the lead of its UK counterpart and introduced a free internet TV service, ABC iView, for Australian eyes only.
But unlike the BBC’s iPlayer, ABC iView is a streamed video service with its own in-built video player, so users will not need to download additional software.

As well as ABC and other domestically-produced programmes, there will also be international hits produced by organisations such as the BBC that appear on ABC TV in Australia. The ABC has been at the head of the pack in terms of Australian broadcasters' internet strategies, the first to introduce vodcasts and now the first to introduce internet TV, other than news bulletins being streamed by commercial networks' joint ventures Yahoo!7 and Ninemsn.

On ABC iView, users either watch their choice of programmes by selecting individual programmes and adding them to a playlist, or watch one of five channels the ABC has put together. These are ABC CatchUp, which showcases that week’s programmes on the broadcaster’s two channels; ABC News; ABC Kazam! a childrens’ “fantasy channel”; factual service ABC Docs; and culture channel ABC Arts. A sixth channel, ABC Shop, previews programmes which can be rented or purchased as downloads from ABC Shop Downloads. More channels are “in the pipeline” according to the ABC’s director of television Kim Dalton.

Dalton added: “ABC TV is committed to offering diverse and engaging television to Australian audiences. With a particular emphasis and focus on Australian content. And as Australians spend more time on line and increasingly get some of their entertainment and information via broadband we want the ABC to be there with Australian made programs and the best of our overseas content.”

The technology has been developed in-house by tech wing ABC Innovation and provides full-screen high-resolution video, although users must have a high-speed broadband connection such as ADSL+2.

ABC launched its vodcast service in July 2006 and in 2007, almost 18 million vodcasts were downloaded from over 20 programmes. So far in 2008, over 55 programmes have had episodes or segments viewable online either through download or streamed.