Those outside of the UK may not be overly familiar with the BBC iPlayer, a streaming web-based TV service for the British institution’s range of channels that has seen burgeoning success and spawned a number of terrestrial and satellite-based rivals. It’s also worth summarising the aim of Project Canvas, a venture by the broadcasting giant that looks to bring a similar streaming service to the home and will notably look to incorporate other channels, on-demand services and web-based content from sites such as YouTube, Flickr and Facebook, as well as built-in PVR functionality though a set-top box connected to a TV.
It’s an ambitious project, but this doesn’t seem to have deterred BBC Director of IPTV Richard Halton who, in a recent speech at the Westminster eForum, confirmed that it is looking to take Project Canvas worldwide.
"We're following the likes of Freeview, by creating a platform built on open standards where manufacturers will be free to take our specification and use it to create their own set-top boxes that plug directly into the internet” he said. "Canvas isn't there to generate profit but as a platform that web services can plug their content into. Canvas has to be a standard that can be recognized and sold around the globe.”
At one point it looked like project would never get off the ground, and investigation by industry regulator OfCom sought to prevent it from creating a monopoly that would make competitor ventures unviable. There were also questions raised of its apparent reliance on existing DVB-T specification, which isn’t used in America, so it seems as though there are quite a few creases to iron out before Canvas can become a reality.
The potential is massive though, and the planned release of an SDK (software development kit) next summer could prove vital to its global success. With other UK channels such as Five and Channel 4 already expressing interest, it seems like a case of when, and not if, this ambitious venture gets off the ground.