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Channel 4 launches 4oD

  • By Paul Crichton
  • 7 Dec 06, 10:05 AM

I’ve just been watching some of David Starkey’s Monarchy. Gosh, how did you manage that I hear you ask? Well, I downloaded it from Channel Four’s new Video on Demand service, 4oD. TV when I want it. That’s what its all about – it’s the future.

9% of us are regularly watching TV online already (I don’t know what the rest of you slackers are doing though), and with services like this, that number is only going to increase. And if this is how we are going to watch TV, then its critical that everyone can watch it this way. So how accessible is 4oD?

Well, I hate to tease, but I’m not going to judge on the five minutes I’ve spent looking at it. We’ll take a more thorough look at it over the next few days, and of course, you’ll be able to read about what we make of it here.

So who else has rushed out to be an early adopter? We’d love to know you make of it. Can you find what you want? Can you navigate the schedules? Are you having problems even getting into it? Let us know. Right, I’m off to watch the rest of the programme with a bucket of popcorn before it expires on me.

Comments   Post your comment

What I'd like to know is - are there any captions / subtitles on demand?

Hi Jeremy

As I said in the article, I only looked at one programme. That, sadly, had no captioning.

  • 3.
  • At 03:53 PM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • Max wrote:

I've used it. It's awful. The browser keeps crashing, it's overpriced, it's Windows-only, none of the content is portable (you can't play it on an ipod or PSP), you don't get to keep the content after the initial period and they don't have much content on there, certainly none of their best shows -US imports.

  • 4.
  • At 01:23 AM on 03 Jan 2007,
  • Sam Walden wrote:

Yes it uses ghastly MS DRM (digital rights management), yes it requires Windows Media Player 10 and yes you need a PC running windows, but it is 'beta' software, still undergoing testing.

The BBC have been using their online news and radio players for a fair while and they're far from perfect. We've seen a limited trial for on-demand telly and have limited 'podcasting' for radio...

Why isn't the Beeb leading the way?

  • 5.
  • At 09:38 PM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Fiona Mather wrote:

I downloaded the 4oD software this morning from the Channel 4 website. It seemed to work well and, had I wanted to, I guess that I could have watched the programme I missed last night.
However, this evening at 9.30 (when I have time to watch the programme)I double click the icon on my desk top and can get no more than a white screen.
I guess that, either the software is dodgy or Channel 4 doesn't have enough server capacity for peak times.
Does anyone else have this problem? I, for one, am disappointed with this service.

  • 6.
  • At 08:14 PM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • Lucy wrote:

The server is awfully slow, and half of the options just don't seem to work. I've been trying for the last half hour to get one show in particular to work, but it's just not doing anything at all.

  • 7.
  • At 10:40 PM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • jay wrote:

Hi all,

A few points you may like to take into account before using 4OD or Skys on demand service as they both use the same software, There are also reports that the sky version leaves kservice running after uninstalling. For me 4OD did remove kservice after uninstalling but please check.

This is a Peer to Peer application It WILL degrade your internet connection ALL THE TIME.
It shares files weather you have downloaded anything or not AND even after you have shut it down in the task bar it continues.
The only way to stop it is to manualy shut down the KSERVICE.EXE program.

If you have limited bandwidth or have a fair usage policy with your ISP (EG Tiscali unlimited) you WILL fall foul of it or be charged for going over your limit.

After installing this and shutting it down I noticed a significant slowing in my connection and alot of traffic going to and from the machine 4OD was installed on. After looking at the traffic on that machine (download tidmon and tcpview to take a look and use to shut it down) I found a program that I didnt recognise (kservice.exe) I then checked the amount of data transfered on my router, this showed in the last 24 hours over 1gb down and nearly 200mb up, FAR more than the hand full of ebay pages I had viewed that day, and the machine had been off for 8 hours.

Ive met more friendly virus's and malware

So be awair


  • 8.
  • At 04:53 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • terry wrote:

Yes, I've used 4od too. It's slow, overpriced, the content expires after a week (meaning you'll have to pay to watch it again) and there are no US imports. Total rubbish!

  • 9.
  • At 07:05 PM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

I just want to agree with the people that have said 4od is awful, my experience started badly and only got worse. Windows is terrbile (and unreliable) DRM is terrible and surprise surprise channel 4 like charging repeatedly for the same programme, and I do not mean after the viewing period. Please dont anyone even bother to try it, wait and let the beeb do it.

  • 10.
  • At 07:53 PM on 23 Feb 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I hope when the BBC launch their service they will not use DRM. If they do people will simply download programmes for free from Bit-Torrent.

DRM is unnecessary for TV archive. Just let go.

  • 11.
  • At 12:52 PM on 26 Feb 2007,
  • Scott wrote:

yep, unless they let people watch with no viewing restrictions/time limit whatsoever, then people will just stick to websites such as uknova. the problem lies with the fact that where theres money to be made, the tv companies wont shy away, and try and make their new tv service essentially appeal more to them (£££) than any user that would have initially have been interested.

its sad, people can record programmes from television and watch for free on vhs/dvd and certain digiboxes, yet with the internet its a totally different matter.

users are likely to stick what they download from internet services onto disc to watch at a later date, which may have upset ch4, since they may think this will lead to a lack of good dvd sales and/or piracy when certain progs make it onto the high st. thats nonsense really, people have been recording onto vhs for years -since the early 80s-present, and vhs tape sales were never exactly slow, all down to the fact that NOT EVERYONE records!

unfortunately I cant see an improvement in the 4oD service until everyone jumps on the bandwagon giving them some competition, in the meantime its either a poor ch4 service or alt methods.

ps- remember with downloading, your internet provider may have a limit on how much you can download per month, (usually 1 to 2 gig worst) so dont be surprised if after constant dloading your connection suddenly stops, or you receive extra billing (usually the former).

  • 12.
  • At 12:59 AM on 18 Mar 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

I personally just want to know what gives them the right to install the Kontiki service on your computer without telling you. As an earlier poster mentioned, it slows down your connection and shares files without your knowledge or consent.

  • 13.
  • At 02:21 PM on 25 May 2007,
  • Amy Naylor wrote:

Can you start to put new episode of the Simpsons at 6:00 because im bored of watching the older versions of the simpsons.

  • 14.
  • At 06:34 PM on 03 Jun 2007,
  • isabel wrote:

I would be able to join in with the complaints about 4 OD but i can't because i have a mac and it doesn't work on them! outrage and computer discrimination.

  • 15.
  • At 08:37 PM on 07 Jun 2007,
  • Stuart M wrote:


As a previous message has mentioned, installing this opens up your computer as sever allowing others to download files from you, in the same way as peer 2 peer systems work. You don't even need to download anything for this to start happening.

Channel 4 and Sky use your connection to share files, they use your bandwidth not theirs to share files. If you have download limits you will soon go over them.

Until the kontiki software is more obvious and allows you to set how much of your bandwidth it uses I will not be installing it, and have started a facebook group to advise others.

  • 16.
  • At 12:45 AM on 10 Jun 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

thankyou for the advice everyone - i consulted this site because i noticed that there was no way to stop 4od running in the task bar every time i restarted my computer and some dodgy looking program called 'kontiki' kept trying to bypass my virus protection and go about doing whatever it wanted even when i hadn't run 4od for ages. I am not by any means well versed in the mysteries inside my computer but i HATE the way modern software (of which windows is a major culprit) operates on a 'we know best' policy, the equivalent to the designer of a coffee table coming into your house and knocking a wall down, ripping off your wallpaper and inviting their friends round to have dinner with you. Suffice to say i am promptly removing all traces of it from my computer (I don't want to watch 400 second rate documentaries about teen-sex-princess-Di-plastic-surgery anyway)

  • 17.
  • At 11:58 AM on 13 Jun 2007,
  • John Whelan wrote:

I have downloaded and tested this software and I have to say that a lot of the comments above, though not quite wrong, are based on a little knowledge and not enough investigation.

Kservice runs as a service. To stop it right-click on My Computer and choose Manage and then click on Services. Select the Kservice and choose to stop it - it will stop.

Note if you change the service from automatic to manual in its properties, it will not start automatically when you restart your computer, but will wait until you use the 4OD software.

I used Ruby to quickly knock up three scripts: one to stop the service, one to start it and one to display its status. While this is still in beta I couldn't see the point of writing such code in Delphi of C++ - it's bound to keep changing!

So with a little study and bit of work, I now find the software sufficiently controllable to be useful.

My biggest worry is that under the hood this software is using Internet Explorer, which means that it will be able to use ActiveX - this is a big worry and I guess we have to just trust Channel 4. I for one would be a lot happier if it used a safe browsing engine, like, for instance, Gecko the engine used by Firefox.

So: as long as you watch the service and take standard precautions regarding the dangers of Internet Explorer, the software is OK to use.

  • 18.
  • At 04:48 AM on 15 Jun 2007,
  • Nate wrote:

I have Kontiki on my computer, I have no idea what it is... I have used CC Cleaner to search for start up files, files that load when my computer starts up or loads, and Kontiki is on there, it is in one of my files. I am using AOL Security and I have searched for mal-ware and adaware but have not searched for viruses on my AOL Security, the reason is I cannot delete Norton 360 on my computer, I have the trial date and I cannot wait until I delete that stupid program off of my computer so AOL can start searching for viruses. AOL Blocks programs that are effecting my computer and is making it slow or can turn into a virus. I just need to know what Kontiki is and how it got on my computer, why, and how I can get rid of it, if it is a virus or a program that does not need to be on my computer that can cause problems.
By the way, it says the Program is kdx... and that is all that it says. And this kontiki thing is in my program files.

  • 19.
  • At 02:58 PM on 28 Jul 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

I have just started using 4od and yes there are a lot of problems and you need a patience of a saint to use it, but it is only in the beta stages and i certainly would not knock channel 4 for it as its a brilliant idea and a lot of the main shows are free. I wouldnt pay to watch any of the shows as i think that it is a little on the expensive side and you cant keep them, but i suppose they need to make it pay some how

Bandwidth side of things, yes, it will take up a lot of bandwidth and do need to be careful and if your planning to use 4od regular you would need a totally unlimited bandwidth provider such as All Fast (they will refund you if they have to restrict)

Overall, well done Channel 4 for launching this, but more importantly i hope they will stick with it to improve things

btw, thanks for letting me know about the kservice, its useful to end if the downloads jam up

  • 20.
  • At 05:41 PM on 02 Aug 2007,
  • hannah wrote:

i used to use 4od untill it stopped working because there was an issue with activex.
i was originally quite content with 4od but after going on their site to fix this i found that its a problem for a lot of users and they havent offered a solution

  • 21.
  • At 02:00 AM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Toby wrote:

I tried it.

Who am I kidding. I didn't; I run linux!

This post is protected by my digital rights. It cannot be reproduced, seen or spoken of without receiving an obfuscated letter from my lawyers.

it is cool

as someone thats been downloading films, documentaries, and tv shows for years ( and fully illegally i'd like to add) i was quite excited when hearing about this.

but as with anything that sounds too good to be true it is.

1. doesn't work with (there is myself and a greater percentage of high end computer users out of the loop.

2. non portable format. the people want avi, mp4, mov... something we can convert later and put on our ipods, phones, or PSPs.

this is completely amateur from someone so forward thinking as channel 4. the itunes music store has been running for what, 6+years now? the reason of its success is simple. ALL the music and shows you want, backed up on YOUR pc/mac and with the option to put it on your iPod or backup to CD/DVD.

can this stuff not be written about 'cause its still taboo to "share" music? we were all there on napster back in the day.

i for one buy any decent TV show upon DVD release now. i tend to watched it on TV first, then online (no thanks to OD), and fully commit to the final shop bought DVD. s far as i'm concerned, I AM your 21st century tv fan... and Channel 4 have missed that. please, someone there give me a call and i'll tell you have to run your service. my number can be found on my website

  • 24.
  • At 10:48 PM on 24 Nov 2007,
  • Santi wrote:

I have used this new Channel 4 Internet service happily for a while until I noticed today that my PC started freezing at regular intervals. After a good hour investigating the problem I found out the culprit process: Kservice.exe. I was really enjoying those old Father Ted episodes but the software will have to go. I wish Channel 4 were a bit more clear to what they are doing to our computers. My advice, wait for a final version and still be very wary of what its doing to your PC.

I hope this helps.

I installed 4oD so i could watch a film they'd show the previous night, but i double click the icon and i get...nothing. So i re-installed. Still nothing.

There's a utility here that manages kservice so that it stops when 4od is not running. When you stop 4od your pc stops sharing so no bandwidth is used:

  • 27.
  • At 07:07 PM on 21 Jan 2008,
  • Sue wrote:

I too have had endless problems with Kontiki. I'd been using 4oD quite happily for several months - until I also installed the BBCiPlayer Download Manager. That was when my PC started running very slowly, or even freezing completely. I soon traced the problem to kservice.exe (the infamous Kontiki P2P software which is used by both of these programs). I uninstalled both 4oD and BBC iPlayer Download Manager and also deleted all my downloaded content - but incredibly, kservice.exe still remained on my system and was still hijacking 98% of my CPU. Even more maliciously, it still opened on startup even after I'd reconfigured the machine to tell it not to! I've now found a tool called KClean which has succesfully uninstalled it. You can download it from this site:

I now stream BBC programmes using BBCiPlayer via a link from the BBC website (this does not seem to require Kontiki), but have given up entirely on 4oD.

But I'd still love to know - what exactly has changed about 4oD in recent weeks, such that now it will not even open without the dreaded Kontiki running? I never used to have this trouble!

Or is it just me....?

  • 28.
  • At 10:13 AM on 25 Jan 2008,
  • ayesha wrote:


  • 29.
  • At 07:00 PM on 29 Jan 2008,
  • Emily wrote:

i dont want lacey turner to die because she is fabulous

This monitor utility works for iPlayer and 4oD too and stops them hogging bandwidth, and possibly Sky Anytime - if you've used it with Sky and it works post a comment:

  • 31.
  • At 10:06 AM on 17 Feb 2008,
  • FredTruter wrote:

All three of the big players in TV over Internet in the UK (Sky Anytime on PC, 4oD and BBC iPlayer download manager) use Kontiki peer-2-peer technology (kservice).

Currently Kontiki can only be installed ONCE on a PC. Everytime you install a different client program that uses it, all previous settings are wiped. This is a shame, as it forces the public to choose between these three content providers.

You have to uninstall BBC iPlayer, reboot Vista/XP, then install Sky Anytime, download the content you want, watch it, uninstall it, reboot, install 4oD, download the content you want, watch it, uninstall, reboot, install BBC iPlayer,....

Not a particularly well thought out process, is it?

Come on BBC, Channel 4 and Sky, kick the guys at Kontiki until they give you a service that will play nicely together -- with other clones of itself!

  • 32.
  • At 07:55 PM on 05 Mar 2008,
  • kate parsons wrote:

ive been sing 4od for a few months and i dont download or pay for anything, i just stream it. but now when i try to watch things the screen is just black, i can hear the sound and see some adverts but thats it. ive tried uninstalling and reinstalling and it hasnt helped. any ideas?

  • 33.
  • At 08:39 PM on 11 Mar 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

I have the exact same problem as the person above.. any ideas? .. I thought maybe my default video setting wasn't the same as it was meant to be as I recently changed it to quicktime, but I changed it back to windows media player 10 and it's still not working.


  • 34.
  • At 04:12 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • John Park wrote:

I cannot use 4OD because it says I am located outwith the uk but I am an AOL customer living in Glasgow. Lots of people in the UK are with AOL and yet we are classified as being in America. I have enquired with 4OD and Channel 4 but neither will respond. I just get a total blank.
They must know about the issue but do not have the good manners to respond.
Channel 4's attitude is shamefull.

  • 35.
  • At 09:18 PM on 04 Apr 2008,
  • charles wrote:

i have just started using 4od, after watching one program the streaming keeps pausing, i have tried it for 3 days but nothing has changed, i tried to download it but the option to down load is not available. what do i do. thanks

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