Ch. 4 launches VOD service


LONDON -- Channel 4 on Wednesday launched 4oD, a branded video-on-demand service that will allow viewers to download and watch all its home-grown programs on demand.

For the first time, British viewers with a PC and a broadband connection will be able to go online to catch up with such shows as "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares," "Hollyoaks" and "Eight of Ten Cats" within a 30-day window from transmission.

The network also is in advanced negotiations to acquire the on-demand rights to key acquired series and has secured the rights to a number of titles including "Desperate Housewives."

4oD also will open up the Channel 4 archives, making hundreds of hours of library shows available for download including "Queer As Folk," "Trigger Happy TV" and "Drop the Dead Donkey."

"The launch of 4oD positions Channel 4 at the global cutting edge of the convergence of television and the Web -- this is the first time a major broadcaster has made all its commissioned content available on demand," chief executive Andy Duncan said. "This demonstrates our absolute conviction about the need to make our distinctive, high-quality content available to our audience wherever, whenever and on whatever device they want to watch it."

At launch, 4oD will allow users to rent a range of Channel 4 content for between 99 pence to  £1.99 ($3.75), with two pieces of promotional content available each week free of charge.

Rented content can be stored in a personalized library until the program is first viewed ,at which point users have 48 hours to watch each show an unlimited number of times.

Channel 4 already has licensing agreements with nearly 100 independent production companies, including Endemol, RDF Media, Talkback Thames and Hat Trick Prods. to supply content to 4oD. All original British content commissioned by Channel 4 since June will automatically be available via 4oD for at least 30 days after its first transmission.