BBC launches consultation for iPlayer plans
James R | On 09, Jan 2019
The BBC has launched a public consultation on its plans to upgrade BBC iPlayer to compete with other VOD services.
With increased rivalry from US streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, alongside UK services such as ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play and Now TV, the Beeb’s catch-up service (despite being the most popular streaming platform in the UK) is facing a tough future. All of its rivals can make their content available for much longer, and that can make the difference in attracting an audience when attention spans are easily distracted and engagement hard to build.
The BBC is therefore proposing to boost its content’s life-span on iPlayer, programmes available for at least 12 months after they are first shown. Complete series box sets for selected titles would also be on offer made up of returning series and their previous series. This would be supported by more content from the BBC archive.
While the BBC has already started to trial this, with a number of returning series, such as Luther, released as bumper box sets, and shows such as Killing Eve available for over a year, Ofcom has since ruled that the Beeb must carry out a consultation first to determine that it is in the public interest to continue improving the service – just one of the many pressures upon the corporation as a public-funded organisation, including cuts on the funding itself.
Charlotte Moore, Director, BBC Content, says: “We know that in the future BBC iPlayer will be the main way many people will want to watch the BBC. It already is for many younger viewers. These changes are about ensuring we continue to deliver value for money to licence fee payers – and meet expectations of viewers who want to watch full series whenever they choose to.
“It’s also important that regulation recognises that there should be a level playing field for public service broadcasters, to ensure British stories are being told for British audiences.”
The consultation published by the BBC this week is aimed at industry stakeholders. It is the first formal step in the BBC publishing a Public Interest Test, as required under the Charter for Material Changes to the BBC’s UK Public Services.
The consultation closes on 15th February 2019. Following the consultation, the BBC will consider stakeholders responses, before the BBC Board approves the Public Interest Test.
The Public Interest Test will also consider: the BBC’s proposals, including any changes made in response to this consultation; the public value of these proposed changes; and the potential impact on fair and effective competition the changes may have.
The BBC expects to publish the Public Interest Test in Spring 2019. Ofcom will then complete a BBC Competition Assessment, or a shorter assessment on the potential market impact of our proposals, before making a decision on whether these changes can go ahead.