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Babelgum: '2008 will be the year of web TV'

On-demand web TV services like Babelgum and the BBC's iPlayer will really kick off next year, Babelgum's CEO has predicted

2007 was a key year for internet TV, but next year is when it will really take off, the CEO of web TV specialist Babelgum has predicted. On-demand services such as Babelgum - and rivals Joost,


, and the

BBC iPlayer

- will thrive next year as more users choose what, when and where they want to watch TV.

"The intense competition [in the IPTV market] can only lead to greater innovation and a substantial increase in service quality for viewers, and we're certainly expecting more new entrants to arrive in 2008," Valerio Zingarelli said in a paper on the subject.

The number of viewers turning to the web instead of traditional TV platforms rose dramatically in 2007, according to Zingarelli. Most were drawn to the "increased range of content on offer". He predicted that next year we'll be able to think more about solutions enabling us to watch TV on portable devices.

And as for traditional broadcasters worried about the growing influence of the web, Zingarelli says they need to change their viewpoint.

"Broadcasters worried about web television should realise internet TV is not trying to replace traditional TV, but is merely giving increasingly savvy viewers greater control and choice. It is this greater control, and choice, which will see internet TV take its place as a conventional platform alongside broadcast TV in 2008 and beyond."

Almost 21 million Britons visited a TV, video or movie-related website during September - a 28 per cent increase in visitors on last year, according to data from market-research firm Nielsen Online.

Web TV services are currently available to the 12 million UK households with a broadband connection, and via download or stream from the BBC iPlayer. When the platform gets its full advertised launch from Christmas Day, user figures are set to rise dramatically, with BBC viewers flocking to the web to catch up on the latest Top Gear, Strictly Come Dancing and EastEnders episodes.

The BBC iPlayer lets you stream or download shows from the BBC channels. Streaming will be available for up to seven days after the programme has aired, while downloads can be kept for up to 30 days. The platform will work in tandem with the new Kangaroo project from ITV, Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm.