Sky has announced that its video-on-demand (VOD) service Sky Anytime+ will soon include both BBC iPlayer and ITV Player, in a landmark move that will bring a plethora of new content to millions of livingrooms across the UK.

Sky Anytime+ is currently in 1.2m homes around the country, and it has seen weekly usage increase by 80% in the three months to 31 December 2011. Sky Anytime+ is its Internet-delivered VOD service which comes with no extra charge to subscribers, and Sky is extending the reach of it by making Sky Anytime+ available to all Sky+HD homes with an Internet connection, across all broadband providers – not just those signed-up to Sky Broadband. More than 5 million homes will soon be able to access the service.

However, the big news here is the announcement that both BBC iPlayer and ITV Player is arriving on the service, with ITV shows such as Prime Suspect, Lewis and Cold Feet, available from tomorrow on Sky Anytime+. More programming will arrive on ITV Player later this year.

The BBC partnership is a massive move for both companies, but comes as something of a surprise given that Sky has been critical of BBC and the way it bundles its on-demand iPlayer content. Sky had wanted to syndicate the broadcaster’s content rather than air it as a BBC-branded service, but it seems to have compromised its position on this.

When The Next Web caught up with Daniel Danker, BBC’s General Manager, Programmes & On Demand, last August, it was noted that Sky could still be on its radar at some point in the future. Indeed, we reported on the BBC’s future plans for iPlayer following this meeting with Danker, as it announced its plans to take it “beyond the tech savvy” and make it a staple part of livingrooms around the country. And this link-up with Sky is a massive step towards making this a reality.

BBC iPlayer has been a hugely popular service with UK audiences since it launched back in 2007, delivering a record 2 billion TV and radio programmes in 2011, an increase fueled by the uptake of mobile connected devices.

This deal also builds on a history of industry partnerships that have seen BBC iPlayer rolled out on platforms like Virgin Media, BT Vision, FreeSat, Freeview, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and hundreds of mobile phones, tablets, and Internet-connected TVs. Launching on Sky Anytime+ is a huge boost both for BBC iPlayer is available on every major UK television platform.

“Having the BBC and Sky work together to further build on the BBC iPlayer success story can only be fantastic news for audiences,” says BBC Director General Mark Thompson. “Making BBC iPlayer available on all platforms is key to our commitment to universal access and this agreement takes us one step further towards that goal. I’m delighted to take this first step on a story of innovation for both organisations.”

BBC iPlayer has helped pioneer TV on demand by giving audiences the opportunity to watch selected TV programmes for up to 7 days after their initial broadcast, and it has evolved to bring more TV programmes and entire series and films, radio shows, live TV channels & radio station, programme downloads for offline viewing and personalisation features such as favourites and recommendations. To help bring the service to livingrooms around the country, the BBC launched a TV-friendly version of iPlayer, rolling it out initially for Sony’s PlayStation 3.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Chief Executive, added: “Sky Anytime+ will go from strength to strength in 2012 and we are delighted that the addition of BBC iPlayer will allow Sky customers to enjoy the best of the BBC whenever they want.”