Tuesday, 15 April 2008

BBC's Ashley Highfield to head Kangaroo

Anyone who attended the Prince’s Trust Technology Leadership Group Summer Reception atop Barclay’s tower in Canary Wharf in 2007 will know Ashley Highfield. (To reread my write up at the time – Click here) He’s the Director of Future Media and Technology at the BBC and he’s one of those rare guys who has “the vision thing”.

Personally I think that one of the best things to come out of the UK has been the BBC and one of the best things to come out of the BBC in the last 10 years has been its internet play; now one of the most visited sites in the world – indeed, bbc.com is the third most visited site in the UK. Indeed, its ‘Listen again’ facilities enabled me to achieve Holway’s Martini Moment #1 (audio version) and the iPlayer is well on the way to achieving Holway’s Martini Moment #2 (video version). iPlayer has been such a fantastic success – 42m programmes downloaded since its Christmas launch – that ISPs are now complaining about the way it derogates service levels.

Ashley has now been appointed to head Kangaroo, a joint online video platform from ITV, BBC Worldwide and Channel 4, which plans to launch later in the year. See Financial Times 15th Apr 08. The three broadcasters will put around 10,000 hours of programming online, and Kangaroo will be funded by advertising and by users paying to buy or rent programmes. Kangaroo has a budget of c£400m – so it’s a pretty big job from Day One.

The BBC (and all of us, come to that) have much to thank Ashley Highfield for and this was reflected in the high praise they piled on him yesterday. It’s a logical move for Ashley who really didn’t have anywhere higher to go in the BBC.

Eric Huggers, who joined the BBC from Microsoft last year, is hotly tipped to take on the BBC job vacated by Ashley.

Footnote – We have resisted the headline – Highfield hops off to Kangaroo. Unlike almost every other article on the subject!

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