BBC Could End Restrictions On Foreign iPlayer Views

This story was written by Patrick Smith.
Overseas web TV viewers could soon be watching Eastenders or Dr Who on the BBC's VOD iPlayer says the Beeb's director of new media and technology, Erik Huggers. Speaking at Screen Digest's conference on the future of online distribution (via MediaGuardian), he said that the iPlayer had built up 248 million views since its Christmas Day launch last year and said the barriers to non-UK viewers could be lifted. "The internet is, by definition, a global medium, yet today we are artificially blocking international access to the iPlayer. That's a problem, in my mind, and a big challenge for the industry," he said.

It's a nice idea, but the question remains: what access model would the Beeb opt for? The iPlayer is funded through the British license fee, so would foreign viewers be expected to pay for the service? Or perhaps with the help of commercial division BBC Worldwide, views could be monetized? BBCWW this week began selling BBC TV shows on the French iTunes store for download from 1.99 per episode. If this same content were given away for free, it could hinder BBCWW's foreign business plan. Another option would be to emulate the Virgin Media-iPlayer carriage deal; Virgin subscribers have watched 49 million videos since June.

-- Multi-platform downloads: Huggers says another persistent problem for the iPlayer, multi-platform functionality, will be solved by the end of the year with a download manager compatible with every OS. PC users make up 85 percent of the iPlayer audience, Mac users 10 percent and minority platforms Linux and the Nintendo Wii users make up one percent each.

Rafat adds: Yoohoooo....if it happen.

By Patrick Smith