BBC plans subscription-only U.S. iPlayer on iPad

December 20, 2010

The BBC intends to launch a global version of its iPlayer TV service on the iPad. The iPlayer is the UK broadcaster’s multiplatform, on-demand service that makes TV and radio shows from the previous seven days available to users. The global subscription-based service will carry popular BBC shows such as “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood” and “Top Gear” on-demand. The paid subscription model is intended to get new audiences used to using the service as well as generate user data. Advertising will be sold on the free areas of the service.

In the UK, the iPlayer is one of the most popular broadcaster-operated VOD services, with 139 million requests in October. In the United States (and other markets), users can purchase BBC shows via the iTunes Store, which hosts more than 1000 episodes. The move to launch a global iPlayer service represents the BBC’s interest in offering the shows under its own brand identity. Currently, BBC Worldwide is untangling the intricacies of digital rights for the TV shows that are not produced by BBC.

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