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BBC iPlayer Starts Subscription Service On iPad

BBC Worldwide is planning to launch the global iPlayer on a subscription service on iPad to start international rollout.The Global iPlayer is expected to hit the US first and will be in pilot form until it gets given the green light by the BBC Trust…….

The BBC will launch the long-awaited global version of its iPlayer TV catch-up service on a subscription-only basis, and initially only on iPad.The service, carrying BBC shows like Doctor Who on-demand, will likely be very popular in the U.S., generating new income for the BBC back in Britain.BBC will operate a subscription worldwide media channel that, in time, could become one of its biggest.

iPlayer is the BBC’s multi-platform on-demand service for serving the BBC’s own TV and radio shows from the last seven days. Launched three years ago, it’s now the UK’s most popular broadcaster-operated VOD service clocking 139 million requests in October. That makes it more popular than Hulu, which clocked 260 million requests but which includes shows from at least three broadcasters and which operates in a market whose population is five times larger.

But, just as Hulu is available only in North America, the TV industry’s dependence on temporal and territorial windows means the license fee-funded, non-profit BBC can host shows on iPlayer only within the UK and only for a week, before rights revert to producers for exploitation.Whilst building out its ad-funded BBC.com and its BBC America and BBC World News channels in the States, the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide.

That presents a clear VOD opportunity. BBC Worldwide has sold a la carte VOD shows for some time, but through third parties like iTunes Store, where it has over 1,000 episodes. BBCWW pulled £10 million in sales from such channels in 2008/09.BBCWW appointed a global iPlayer launch director in September, after corporation director-general Mark Thompson set a 12-month deadline on the project’s delivery.BBCWW would likely license the existing iPlayer technology, as well as shows, from the BBC. Although BBC iPlayer is available through a website to iPad users.

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