LONDON: The UK's largest commercial broadcaster, ITV, is to follow the BBC into the 'keeping-up with the Joneses' TV tournament. It too plans an internet on-demand service that allows viewers to watch programmes free for up to thirty days after transmission.

Neither broadcaster has publicly committed to a launch date and the race is likely to be neck-and-neck. ITV, meantime, hypes its upcoming service as "the most comprehensive commercial website offered by any broadcaster in the world".

Online programmes will be interspersed with commercials immune to fast-forwarding, and although programmes will be streamed live, they can't be stored on viewers' hard disks or other digital recording systems - initially at least.

ITV claims to be investing £20 million ($39.99m; €29.40m) in the project. According to executive chairman Michael Grade (pictured above), the site's 'click and watch' technology will free viewers from the need to download complicated software.

Says Grade: "Some broadcasters are already streaming their channels, some are providing catch-up and some are building their archive, but will provide all three."

The technology will also enable gaming aficionados to play online - a facility designed to attract revenue additional to advertising.

Currently, ITV is digitising classic content from its archive to watch on-demand, among them ratings-topping series such as The Prisoner, On The Buses, Inspector Morse and The Jewel In the Crown.

Data sourced from The Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff