BBC given green light for international iPlayer

Video on demand service to bring revenue boost, but pricing model remains unclear

Stewart Mitchell
8 Nov 2010

The BBC is to launch a global version of its iPlayer catch-up TV service, giving business travellers and ex-pats a taste of home from abroad.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the corporation - will launch the service next year after being given approval by the BBC Trust.

"Not only will that mean international fans of, for example, Doctor Who can get their fix legitimately [rather than downloading programmes illegally], but it has the potential of opening up a new revenue stream for the entire UK production industry, alongside sales to traditional broadcasters," the newspaper quoted John Smith, the chief executive of BBC Worldwide, as saying.

It is unclear yet how the revenue would be gathered – it could come from a pay-per-view model charging up to $10 for popular programs, or be based on advertising, or a combination of the two.

The iPlayer has until now been unavailable outside the UK, leading users to complain they couldn't use the service when on business trips even though they had paid for it through the television licence fee.

Whether they will pay again to access the service while away from home remains to be seen, but people living in other countries may see the service as a viable alternative to buying series DVDs.

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