IP Vision Teams with ANT to Make FetchTV OTT Platform Available on Third-Party Devices

--BBC Trust Expected to Approve BBC's Participation in Project Canvas this Week--But With Conditions

IP Vision--a company, backed by French set-top box vendor, Netgem, which currently offers a hybrid set-top box, called the FetchTV SmartBox, that combines reception of linear channels from the UK's free-to-air digital terrestrial platform, Freeview, with OTT access to pay-per-view and subscription-based online VOD services, as well as to free, online programming catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer (note: the company says that the box--which can be connected to any broadband access service--will support BSkyB's Sky Player service early next year)--last week announced plans to offer its FetchTV platform on third-party set-tops in addition to its own Smartbox devices. The company also said that it has developed a partner program for third-party content and service providers; and that, as part of its new initiative, it will collaborate with digital TV client company, ANT Software.

According to IP Vision, its collaboration with ANT will bring together the complementary strengths of FetchTV and the ANT Galio platform, which it says will enable rapid integration of the FetchTV service onto hybrid broadcast broadband devices, including European devices employing the emerging HbbTV specification, as well as Freeview devices. The company says that it plans to support a number of third-party manufacturers in 2010, enabling access to FetchTV content and services on a range of Freeview and Freeview HD set-tops and technologies. It also says that it plans to extend its own SmartBox product range to incorporate support for Freeview HD broadcasts early next year. "We have worked hard to develop and launch a connected TV solution in the UK market," IP Vision CEO, Eddie Abrams, said in a prepared statement. "The FetchTV platform is versatile and is a beneficial addition to any set-top box with an Ethernet connection, delivering value for consumers, content providers and manufacturers alike. Delivering FetchTV on third-party devices is the next natural step for us to ensure that IP Vision and FetchTV continue to lead in the UK over-the-top market, which is set to grow massively in the next five years." Added ANT president and CEO, Simon Woodward: "We're pleased to be working with IP Vision integrating FetchTV with the ANT Galio Platform. The FetchTV proposition is an exciting content extension to linear broadcast offerings and naturally complements the vision of the emerging hybrid profiles which are seeing such strong growth in markets such as the UK and Germany."

In related news: As [itvt] was going to press with this issue, UK newspapers The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Financial Times were all reporting that BBC governing body, the BBC Trust, has greenlit the BBC's further participation in Project Canvas, an initiative on which the corporation is partnering with UK public service broadcasters, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, and UK ISP's BT and Talk Talk, in order to attempt to develop a common standard and interface for the delivery of online catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer and the ITV player, as well as other Internet-based VOD services, to broadband-connected Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes (note: Freeview and Freesat are the UK's free-to-air digital terrestrial and digital satellite platforms). However, The Guardian reports, the BBC Trust's approval is expected to be qualified by a number of conditions. As one source quoted by the newspaper explained: "The devil is in the detail and if the conditions are too much it could be very challenging to run it as a commercial operation."