Broadband VOD Content Aggregator, blinkbox, in Digital Distribution Deal with BBC Worldwide

UK broadband video content aggregator, blinkbox, announced Thursday that it has signed a digital distribution deal with the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide (note: the latter recently signed a similar deal with Microsoft UK that will make its content available on the new MSN Video Player service--see article published on, July 30th). According to blinkbox--which says it now offers over 5,000 hours of full-length US and UK TV shows and movies--the new one-year deal gives it the rights to 300 hours of BBC Worldwide content, including such shows as "Hustle" (seasons 1 and 2), "Hotel Babylon" (season 1) and "Doctor Who" (classic episodes from 1973-1984), which will be offered on a free, ad-supported basis; and "Top Gear" (seasons 11 and 12), "Gavin & Stacey" (seasons 1 and 2), "Spooks" (seasons 6 and 7) and "Planet Earth," which will be offered on a download-to-own basis at £1.89 per episode (note: around 75 hours of the content acquired by blinkbox through the new deal will be offered on a download-to-own basis). According to a report in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, all BBC Worldwide content covered by the new deal will only be made available on blinkbox at least 180 days after its broadcast.

Since its launch in April, 2008, blinkbox claims to have also secured partnerships with such major Hollywood studios as Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Television International, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures; and with 15 independent producers. It says that the UK content it is acquiring through its new deal with BBC Worldwide (note: it also signed deals for UK content last year with FremantleMedia and All3Media) will "cement [its] position" as the UK's leading full-length video aggregator. It claims to have an audience of nearly a million unique users and to generate around 1.5 million video streams a month. "There's been a lot of hype around foreign companies coming to the UK to fill the void left by Kangaroo," blinkbox co-founder and CEO, Michael Cornish, said in a prepared statement. "The reality is the void has already been filled by a home-grown service: blinkbox. We are UK-based, UK-financed and UK-staffed. The addition of BBC Worldwide as a content partner helps us to fulfill blinkbox's mission to bring British audiences the best movies and TV online." (Note: for more on Project Kangaroo, a VOD joint-venture between BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel 4, that was nixed by the UK Competition Commission on the grounds that it would result in a "substantial lessening of competition in the supply of UK TV VOD content at the wholesale and retail levels," see, for example, the articles published on, December 30th and May 25th. As we reported on July 27th, Project Kangaroo's assets were recently acquired by broadcast transmission company, Arqiva, which is planning to use them to launch a VOD service of its own. Hulu, the broadband VOD service co-owned by three of the US's four major broadcast networks, also plans to launch in the UK in the fall.) Added Simon Danker, director of digital content partnerships at BBC Worldwide: "Audiences are demanding a wide variety of options of how to watch their favorite content. We're pleased that through blinkbox, fans of TV classics such as 'The Young Ones,' 'Doctor Who' and 'Planet Earth' will have another destination to watch these popular shows."