Global Economics

BBC's iPlayer Set to Go Global


The hugely successful online video-streaming service from Britain's public broadcaster could soon be available to viewers in the U.S. and elsewhere

BBC Worldwide has confirmed it wants to launch an iPlayer-style paid-for video platform, allowing viewers overseas access to BBC content on-demand.

The service will give users access to some of the corporation's flagship programmes, such as Doctor Who or Torchwood.

The BBC's iPlayer video-on-demand service, which first appeared in summer 2007 has now become a part of the media landscape, used by millions each month.

Like BBC's iPlayer in the UK, the service would provide material from BBC's international channels including BBC America and BBC Entertainment, as well as a catalogue of archived content.

It could also carry non-BBC shows that BBC Worldwide already has rights to air on BBC America. The service will be aimed primarily at an American audience, and will be available on a pay-per view basis.

The new service, which will have to be approved by the BBC Trust before it can be implemented, is part of a wider scheme by BBC Worldwide to establish new revenue models.

The BBC's international service has been funded by advertising since November 2007, as it is not covered by the UK licence fee.

Luke Bradley-Jones, MD and EVP of BBC.com, discussed the possibility of introducing a pay model for international users in a recent interview with paidContent.

"It's inevitable that we, the digital media business, need to move to a mix of paid services," he said. "There just aren't enough ad dollars to support traditional media models."

"Millions of people love Torchwood and would probably pay 10 bucks an episode rather than two bucks," Bradley-Jones told paidContent.

International audiences already have access to BBC programmes via BBC Worldwide's TV channels and can buy individual episodes on iTunes. Bradley-Jones also said BBC Worldwide plans to launch news and sport mobile apps in the next few months.

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