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24/10/2005

This is a local narrowcast, for local people...

Having not been included on the BBC's beta for its IMP (Interactive Media Player) trial (and still having a geek sulk about the fact) it was great to see that ITV had launched the trial of its new local web TV service, ITV Local, in my home city of Brighton & Hove (also simultaneously in Hastings).

You can take a look at the service here.

The service includes seven "channels" including news, weather, what's on listings, classified ads, short films and local music talent. The content available at first isn't exactly inspiring, but the concept is exciting. Especially the opportunity for anyone to submit content to the service.

ITV taking a radical step here - surprising, given how much flak the brand has taken for not keeping up with new digital technologies. The platform has been provided by US firm Narrowstep.

The consensus among media and blog commentators seems to be that the move is brave, the quality good, and the future uncertain.

I think that the success or otherwise of the service will rest on how well ITV can get local people to contribute content. Brighton & Hove certainly has more than its fair share of creatives and digital media folk who could help this process along.

I'll keep an eye on this service and report back with a Brightonian's perspective on developments in future posts.

Meanwhile, have a look at a selection of blog and media comments below:

  • Informitv carries the story and notes that the BBC is also planning an ultra-local service soon (was ITV's launch a spoiler when the corporation's been new media's hero so much of late?)...
  • Personalize Media has an interesting take on the story, as Gary Hayes was involved in a not dissimilar pioneering project at Kingston Communications.
  • My Way of Thinking is sceptical: "IPTV is the future so ITV may just be developing their skill base and generating some PR by beating the BBC; but I doubt this launch represents a workable business model."
  • But ITV earns some brownie points from TechDigest: "It’s nice to see then that ITV have begun trialling a new TV service, designed to reach out to individual communities, using broadband.... It is, however, easy to see the potential of the service, which is set to accept content from would-be film makers and other keen enthusiasts. It also loads up pretty quickly and seems to stream flawlessly."
  • Media Guardian (requires log in) carried the story without much analysis, but notes that Brighton & Hove, as well as Hastings, were selected because "Around 28% of people in Brighton and Hastings have access to broadband internet at home - more than the national average of 22% - with many others having access at work."
  • C21 gives some more details on the workings of the pilot: "The service is a joint venture between ITV's recently established Consumer Division, headed by former Hallmark UK chief executive Jeff Henry, and ITV News, which is supplying its current affairs programming. Technology comes from US stock market-listed internet TV specialist Narrowstep, which counts Telewest-owned Flextech Television and 'psychic' station Your Destiny TV among its clients."
  • Meanwhile Mike Butcher reporting from MIPCOM on paidcontent.org notes that "the site crashed our Safari browser, but hey..."





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