Undeterred by Ofcom’s snub of the BBC’s licence fee funded video download service, BBC Worldwide is preparing to launch a commercial version of the iPlayer later this year. The iPlayer is one of BBC Worldwide’s key objectives for 2007 and will form part of an entertainment site designed to be the home of BBC audio and video downloads. The site will initially be launched in the UK, the United States and Australia.
The launch of the seven-day catch up service proposed by the BBC is dependent on approval by the new BBC Trust under the Public Value Test. With the technology largely complete, and commercial rivals including ITV and Channel 4 well advanced with their own plans, it seems likely that the trust will give the go ahead of the licence fee funded service, taking on board some of the points raised by Ofcom in its statement earlier this month. BBC Worldwide would then come in and offer commercial downloads once the seven-day period has passed.
Ironically if the Trust were to reject the iPlayer, then BBC Worldwide would be free to pick up the technology, and potentially have earlier commercial access to programmes because it would no longer need to wait for the so-called ‘series stacking’ periods to have expired.