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Channel 4 launches video-on-demand download service

LONDON - Channel 4 has launched its video-on-demand service that allows viewers to download shows such as 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares', 'Deal or No Deal' and 'Desperate Housewives' to their personal computers.

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The service, called 4oD, gives PC users with a broadband connection the chance to catch up on Channel 4 programming up to 30 days after a show's first transmission.

The service covers all Channel 4 original content commissioned since June, a few imported titles such as 'Desperate Housewives', and classics from the broadcaster's archive including 'Queer as Folk', 'Trigger Happy TV' and 'Drop the Dead Donkey'. The network said it was in advanced talks to secure on-demand rights to other key acquired programmes.

4oD allows users to rent Channel 4 content for between 99p to £1.99p, with two pieces of promotional content available each week free of charge. It will take up to one-and-a-half times the length of the programme to download the programmes, which will then be erased 48 hours after first viewing.

From next February, 4oD will offer monthly subscription packages, ranging from £3.99 for TV content only to £5.99 for all film and content.
Initially, 4oD will not feature any advertising but Channel 4 said that pre-roll ads might be added to the service next year.

Channel 4 also said it had signed deals with around 100 independent production companies, including 'Big Brother' maker Endemol, to supply content to 4oD.

Rod Henwood, new-business director of Channel 4, said: "As a commercial broadcaster, we need our new-media services to be commercially viable and over time we expect 4oD to become profitable and play a key role in addressing Channel 4's long-term funding gap. We are deliberately experimenting with a variety of business models from pay-per-view, subscription and ad-funded to free in order to build a truly compelling on-demand service for our viewers."

The launch of the 4oD service follows earlier deals with NTL Telewest and BT's new broadband platform BT Vision.

Meanwhile, Channel 4 said it is still in talks to resolve a wrangle over advertising on its simulcast service. In July, the broadcaster pulled ads from this service after the IPA expressed concerns that Channel 4 had not ensured rights clearance or provided indemnity to run TV ads during its new TV-on-the-internet service.

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