BBC Worldwide is preparing to launch its paid iPlayer service next year.
The broadcaster’s commercial arm released its annual report this week and included details of the online electronic sell-through store. The proposed paid shop, which will give customers access to shows no longer on iPlayer due to licencing restrictions, was approved by the BBC Trust in February of this year.
It has been a big year for the Beeb. Investment in content, both BBC commissioned and third party, increased by 13.7% to £200.6m this year, up from £176.4m in rhe previous year. While UK headline sales declined by 4.8 per cent to £362.2m, overall headline profit edged up 0.7 per cent to £157.4m. Returns to the BBC of £173.8m were up 11.4 per cent, which equates to 10.1 per cent of the year’s funding for BBC Television.
The BBC’s best-selling programme this past year was the third season of Sherlock, which was sold to 224 territories.
It has also been a strong year for digital sales, with VOD and DTO together up 36.7 per cent year-on-year, as the Beeb negotiates new deals with VOD providers. Landmark deals include over 2,000 hours of BBC content to Hulu, Orphan Black to Amazon and Sherlock to Netflix. New seasons of Doctor Who, Sherlock and Top Gear all had their strongest performance yet on DTO.
Luther and Sherlock are the BBC’s most popular titles on Netflix and Amazon. Indeed, Sherlock’s popularity extends to overseas digital services too: on Youku, in Asia, Sherlock Season 3 attracted over 67m hits.
The biggest digital development for the broadcast, though, is the paid BBC Store. BBC iPlayer’s free catch-up window was extended to 30 days this year for UK viewers, paving the way for the BBC Worldwide service in 2015 following the ending of the Global BBC iPlayer trial.
10,000 hours of content will be made available in the first year, the BBC estimates, describing it as a “major investment”, which will offer “an unprecedented volume of BBC programmes available for paid download”.
The BBC Store service will be launched “first in the UK and subsequently internationally”, says Tim Davie, Chief Executive of BBC Worldwide and Director of Global. “Work is now underway for a launch in 2015.”
It will form a key part of the broadcaster’s ambitious plans to double its global audience reach from 250m to 500m per week by 2022.