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Sky and BBC in iPlayer deal

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The BBC and Sky are today trumpeting a new arrangement that will see the latter stuff links to iPlayer shows into its own web TV service.

And... er... that's pretty much it. Given the Sky Player's weedy traffic*, the move is likely to have negligible impact on usage of iPlayer. Meanwhile, Sky offering categorised links to already easily available BBC shows is unlikely to pull the crowds to its site.

Sky's director of on-demand Griff Parry said: "Access to BBC content along with improvements to the user experience will further support the ongoing success of Sky Player... The addition of links to content from BBC channels further demonstrates Sky’s role as a leading online aggregator with access to one of the broadest selections of online video."

The fact that the pair have announced the links as a "partnership" is the most significant aspect of the news. Relations between Sky and BBC management are poor historically. BBC suspicions about Rupert Murdoch were seemingly confirmed when he booted it from his Chinese satellite in 1994 at the behest of Beijing censors.

Sky is currently a leading objector to the BBC's commercial on-demand push Project Kangaroo, which is being examinined by the Competition Commission. Auntie's involvement with Channel 4 and ITV on that project is being handled by its commercial arm BBC Worldwide, however, separate from iPlayer.

Today iPlayer boss Anthony Rose said: "This deal further underlines our commitment to reaching new audiences by making BBC iPlayer available on as many services as possible."

A version of iPlayer for the millions of Sky set-top boxes in UK homes would be a much more interesting development. The implementation that allows Virgin Media subscribers to watch BBC shows on-demand in their living rooms now accounts for a third of total iPlayer usage. ®

*"There are hundreds of thousands of unique registered users for the service," the press release says. There's no mention of how many actually use it.

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