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Sky has announced a new deal that will bring BBC iPlayer and ITV Player to its on-demand service from tomorrow.
It is the latest development in the battle for connected TV customers as providers try to ensure they offer viewers as much content as possible.
The satellite broadcaster has also announced that its Anytime+ service will be available to all Sky+HD subscribers with a broadband connection – previously it was only available to customers who received their broadband from Sky.
Sky Anytime+ is currently available in 1.2m homes but by dropping the Sky Broadband requirement it means that more than 5m customers will now receive the on-demand service.
Weekly usage of the service increased by 80% in the three months to 31 December 2011, and by opening it up to more homes that growth figure is likely to skyrocket.
The partnership with the BBC is surprising considering the rivalry between the two broadcasters, with Rupert Murdoch previously saying that the BBC’s dominance threatens independent journalism in the UK.
Sky had been seeking to syndicate content from the BBC and ITV rather than air it as a branded service, but has clearly been forced to reconsider to ensure that it offers the same content as its rivals.
Sky’s decision to offer Anytime+ to all customers with a broadband connection may also have had something to do with the BBC deal.
A statement from the BBC said:
A core BBC value is to reach all audiences on a universal basis, so Sky’s plan to make Anytime+ available to customers regardless of their internet provider is an important development in helping to bring BBC iPlayer to around 5 million new homes in 2012 – at no extra charge.”
The deal caps a successful 12 month period for the BBC’s on-demand service, which delivered 2bn TV and radio shows in 2011.
iPlayer is now available on every major UK TV platform including Virgin Media, BT Vision, Freeview, PS3, Nintendo Wii and Xbox LIVE.
While it may stick in Murdoch’s throat, the partnership is also a logical step for Sky as iPlayer has quickly become one of the standard services that viewers expect to receive as part of a connected TV package.
The broadcaster said that in December 7m iPlayer programmes were requested on connected TV sets, a year-on-year increase of over 1000%, while mobile phones and tablets recorded 13m and 10m respectively.