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Coming to a Computer Near You: Television

BSkyB launches a package this week of broadband and on-demand TV programming - but the competition will be fierce.

TV is now increasingly accessible from your PCSome of the biggest names in the British media are making significant moves into the brave new world of broadband television. And although watching TV on your PC is not going to replace the telly in the living room any time soon, players from Google to BSkyB, and from Channel 4 to independent producers such as Talkback Thames, are diving in.....


Sky plans to increase its broadband programming offer and this week the company will unveil an offer via its recent purchase of broadband provider Easynet which, it says, will rival BT, NTL and Carphone Warehouse by bundling a high-speed connection with Sky content.

Meanwhile, last week the world's biggest search engine, Google, unveiled the UK version of its online library Google Video, which offers tens of thousands of choices, ranging from traditionally made TV shows and film clips to home-made amateur footage.

With more than 10 million UK homes connected to high-speed broadband (it will be 16 million by 2010), a critical mass of potential broadband TV viewers was reached earlier this year. Where the millennium started with a rush of music downloading, the latest online craze is now TV downloads.

In fact, the amount of TV already available online might shock the average telly viewer. The BBC premiered episodes of its hit comedy The Mighty Boosh online and put all its World Cup games online for free viewing; more than 1,000 sports clips and hundreds of Sky Movies films have been downloadable by Sky Premium subscribers from since January; Channel 4 has been streaming live Big Brother content for several years and its current US blockbusters Lost and Desperate Housewives are available for a 99p per-episode fee; and ITV is gearing up for a major online relaunch later this year including its newly acquired Friends Reunited site.

As programming becomes more accessible, it is not just the traditional broadcasters who have a desire to attract the new audience. Google and so-called social networking sites such as are just as likely to catch viewers' attention. A year ago News Corp acquired MySpace, which attracts more than 50 million online visits a month. Recently Disney created a special Pirates of the Caribbean page on the site offering the film's trailer. More than 70,000 fans logged on.

Full report published in The Observer