The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are joining forces in an historic venture to allow viewers to catch up on thousands of hours of TV.

The on-demand service will bring together more than 10,000 hours of the best of the broadcasters’ current and archive programming in one place.

Viewers will be able to catch up on current shows and watch old favourites.

The service, being launched by the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, as well as ITV and Channel 4, will initially launch on the internet but it is hoped it will eventually be available on TV sets.

Some content will be free, while other programmes will be available for rent or to buy.

The three broadcasters currently offer their own separate on-demand services: seven-day catch-up service the BBC iPlayer, and Channel 4oD, which will all continue to operate.

The service, which has the working title ‘Kangaroo’, will be launched next year subject to formal approval from the BBC Trust and the other broadcasters’ boards.

John Smith, chief executive officer of BBC Worldwide, said: “This is a historic partnership between the UK’s largest broadcasters. For some time we have wanted to form an alliance with other rights holders in the UK and give viewers an on-demand service with real added value.”

Michael Grade, executive chairman of ITV, said: “The joint service has the potential to become an important shop window for UK broadcaster content and a great destination for viewers.”