BBC Confirms Plans to Launch VOD

Mark Thompson, Director General at BBC has verified that the broadcaster is preparing to launch a service that will allow users download individual TV programs for a reasonable amount of fee, according to the Guardian.

In a speech at the Royal Television Society (RTS) in London, Thompson made this announcement. Last week rumblings began to surface regarding BBC plans on the said project, called “Project Barcelona.”

Some of the reports suggest that each episode could be priced at £1.89 (US$3) and also the platform would only offer purchases. Frankly speaking, TV rentals have never proved to be a success and for this reason, Apple decided to drop them completely back in August.

The most interesting part of all this is the discussion regarding price. Previously, it was reported that the BBC was considering charging UK iPlayer users to watch archived content. However, the BBC’s spokesman later announced that the fee would only be a micropayment to cover up company’s own costs.

Expecting heavy criticism, Thompson insisted on the fact that this project wants a “second license fee by stealth,” in a country, where the annual license fee costs as much as £145.50 (US$228). He is of the view that people are already used to purchase DVDs, and this platform will actually do the same at a lower price.

However, it is still to be seen how content producers will respond to the project. Thompson also revealed that he had already begun dialogues with British indie producers as well as to their trade association, Pact.

He also stated that any license deal with content owners would be non-exclusive, which means that content producers can license their content to other platforms as well.

Thompson further added that more and more programs from the archive would be uploaded to the service, reports BBC News. It is also hoped that programs will make their way in the same window as catch-up TV, immediately after broadcast.

Now the question is whether the attempts from BBC are enough not to annoy regulators. We have to wait for a while to find out the answer of this question. BBC already has an experience where European Commission found its Worldwide Project Kangaroo anticompetitive.

BBC Trust will review the Project Barcelona later this year to see whether it is ready to go live or not.


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