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Is Anytime Plus By Sky A Canvas Killer?

There are signs that Sky's just announced Anytime Plus service will be one of the two competitors to the BBC and BT backed video on demand platform, Project Canvas.

We've already reported on how a Virgin Media spokesperson let slip that the company might be working on a video distribution platform and now a senior Sky executive confirms that BSkyB will come up with a similar project.

The three rival entities will, for the first time, bring their fight for content distribution on the same medium. Until now, Virgin Media used cable to distribute its content while Sky relied on its satellite infrastructure and the rest on terrestrial FTA.

Now broadband is set to become their battleground. Arguably, both Virgin Media and Sky do not want a repeat of Freeview when the new platform proved to be a very tough competitor at a killer price - free. The survival of the rival services will depend on a number of things.

Firstly whether they're able to convince other content distributors to join the fray and use their platforms. Sky has already said that they are talking to terrestrial channels and may use their clout to convince Hollywood to join in.

Hulu was set to launch in the UK in September but its roll out has since been cancelled. The popular US-based joint venture could prove to be a decisive factor in the success of any of the three platforms. Project Canvas is on paper, the most open of the three proposals.

But it is also the one which will depend the most on other variables like internet connectivity. In contrast, Virgin Media controls every point of the chain, from the actual fibre optic network to the set top box inside the customer's house and may well be the one who will be able to roll out a Canvas-like platform the fastest.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.