AUNTIE BEEB has been given clearance to transform BBC iPlayer from being largely a catch-up service to a fully-fledged digital streaming offering.
Media regulator Ofcom has given full clearance for the Corporation to keep shows uploaded to iPlayer available for a full year after broadcast, beyond the previous 30-day limit, with some shows of limited commercial value being allowed an even longer shelf-life.
But don't start expecting programmes to start appearing in bulk straight away. Now that the BBC has clearance, it will need to negotiate with the independent production houses that make much of the Corporation's programming. Some might not be keen, given that they may be able to get a better deal from licensing streaming rights to a third party, like Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Ofcom said that it had recognised that the change could "deliver significant public value" which will outweigh the negative effect it could have on rivals. It estimates that the changes to iPlayer could see an upswing in the usage of the service by up to a third.
When first applying for the new terms, the BBC was keen to point out that the restrictions it was then working under were restrictive enough to prevent any kind of meaningful competition with commercial rivals, be that streaming specialists like Netflix or rival broadcast offerings like All4.
This is only the latest stage of the BBC's digital pivot. It has already removed the linear version of BBC Three in favour of an on-demand only service. As it settles rights issues with producers, the next stage will be to work out what happens to BBC shows after a year.
BBC and ITV are working together to launch Britbox, a ‘British Netflix' would be fed in part by shows as they 'fall off' BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. Other shows will take a detour via the BBC's commercial channels from UKTV and its own streaming service UKTV Play. μ
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