The ABC (that's our ABC, not the US one) has followed in the footsteps of the BBC's iPlayer and launched its own Internet television streaming service.
Called ABC Playback, the service will offer three streaming Internet channels:
- - ABC Catch-up, which will have a range of programming culled from both of the network's free-to-air TV channels (ABC1 and the digital-only ABC2).
- - ABC Real, which will show documentaries and natural history programming
- - ABC Shop, a paid download service from which you will be able to both buy and rent programming. Initially, programs will be roughly $3 to rent for a week, and pay-to-own services will come later.
The ABC is planning to start trials of the service by the end of this month. Up to 5,000 users will be able to watch the television programming from the 26th. If you'd like to sign up as a beta tester, head over to the ABC's Playback site to find out how. You'll need a broadband connection of at least 1.1Mbps to sign up.
ABC is saying that the video is streamed at 650Kbps, which would indicate that it's going to be of decent quality. Not digital TV quality, but enough to watch it full screen.
This all sounds great of course, but until the ABC makes some deals with ISPs, I don't know that too many people will be watching. Watching a 650Kbps stream is likely to gut even the most generous of download volume plans. If our calculations are correct, it works out to about 300 megabytes per hour of viewing.
It would be fantastic if Australian ISPs put the content in their free zones, which would allow people to watch the content without fear of getting shaped. It would, you'd think, be something of a feather in the cap of any ISPs that did this, but many may not be prepared to take the bandwidth hit.