UK BROADCASTER the BBC plans to develop iPlayer from a catch-up service to a full fledged video on demand (VoD) operation, revealing that it will give iPlayer a separate identity with its own controller and a programme budget for original productions.
This will give the BBC a chance to take a share in the lucrative VoD market after the success of original Netflix productions including House of Cards and the revived Arrested Development.
This won't be the first time that the BBC experiments with first run programming on iPlayer. Most recently, several productions, primarily BBC Three comedies, have been previewed online a week earlier than broadcast, however this is the first time that the BBC has acknowledged that its forays into the world of internet TV will become part of an overarching, funded strategy.
Speaking at a Royal Television Society event on Tuesday evening, BBC head of television Danny Cohen explained that the new outlet will also be the home of "pop up" television channels such as the new Radio 1 TV outlet, enhanced Glastonbury coverage and development of the Red Button Wimbledon service. Mr Cohen explained that he did not have the full details of the service yet, but was hoping to be able to offer a programming budget of "a few million pounds", largely aimed at a youth audience.
This has echoes of the broadcaster's former youth online channel BBC Switch, which closed two years ago. However, by integrating internet television offerings under a single umbrella, the cost savings could see these new ventures saved from the next round of budget cuts.
For viewers, this will sit very well alongside existing services on their smart TVs and mobile devices. The success of Netflix, Blinkbox with its free subsidiary Clubcard TV and Crackle have shown that there is an appetite for internet television in the UK, and the BBC seems ready to give them all a run for their money. µ
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