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Summary:

BBC Worldwide is plucking an iPlayer exec from the BBC itself to drive through its stuttering plan to launch an overseas version of the VOD…

BBC iPlayer
photo: Dan Taylor

BBC Worldwide is plucking an iPlayer exec from the BBC itself to drive through its stuttering plan to launch an overseas version of the VOD service.

It’s giving the new post of Global iPlayer Launch Director to Mark Smith, who has been filling the role of general manager for programmes and on-demand at the BBC on an acting basis…

That was a post future media and technology director Erik Huggers created in a March restructure and filled with Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) exec Daniel Danker this week.

It means BBC Worldwide, the commercial wing, will have an exec with direct experience of the popular UK catch-up service. Indeed, Smith will work not from New York, where many of BBCWW’s operations are, but from London, where the public-service iPlayer is managed.

The iPlayer is not available outside the UK because it depends on licenses from TV show producers which were signed on a UK-only basis, allowing the producers to commercialise their work following an initial window of BBC linear and VOD exclusivity.

But BBCWW is eager to launch a worldwide version that would allow it to charge payments for, or place ads against shows like Doctor Who, Torchwood and Top Gear, which are popular in the U.S. in particular.

BBC Worldwide already syndicates shows to aggregators like iTunes Store, which has over 1,000 BBCWW episodes, on a pay-for, download-to-own basis. But BBCWW would likely prefer to own the platform.

BBC Worldwide has been talking about this for more than a year now. BBC.com EVP Luke Bradley-Jones, to whom Smith will report, told paidContent:UK in October 2009:

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  1. “Millions of people love Torchwood and would probably pay 10 bucks an episode rather than two bucks (as on iTunes).”

    What are these executives sniffing? Why the hell would someone pay $10 for an episode when they can pay $2 on iTunes and beyond that, why the hell would someone pay $10 for a single episode when an entire DVD of the series for $60? These people are clueless idiots and/or are just looking to rip off viewers with over inflated pricing. Its a bit like the studios who refused to sign up to Apple’s 99c TV rental option because they think 99c is too cheap. Again, duluded execs, who think they should charges $2-$5 dollars for shows that will have just aired free the previous night/week on network TV. Idiots. Looks like they are determined to learn the hard way like the music industry!

  2. Go Bubs !!

  3. Hi JC – Alex in the BBC Worldwide press office here. You’re right – charging $10 an episode would be rather excessive….fortunately that’s not anyone’s plan. Luke used that example to highlight the theoretical *value* of niche content to its most dedicated fans, but nothing more. It wasn’t a guide to any future price point on our own VOD service. The payment model for the global iPlayer hasn’t been finalised yet, but rest assured we intend it to be good value for money!

  4. Well done Son, so proud of you, your Dad would have been as well.
    Love you lots

    Mum & Jim

  5. Hi Alex, thanks for the reply. Good to read that the BBCWW hasn’t lost the plot. I appreciate the need to maximum revenues, etc, but the price points have to be realistic and should IMHO, be aimed as getting the masses on board and not trying to extract a premium off hardcore fans who probably would pay over the odds just because they are fans or collectors.

    I’m not sure if BBCWW is also looking at offering rentals as well as downloads, but I would struggle to justify ‘renting’ a show for 99c on a regular basis. On the other hand, if rental prices were in the $0.29 to $0.49 range (maybe $0.29 for archive material, $0.39 for 30 min sitcoms and $0.49 for hour long shows) then I could see myself using the service reguarly and possibly as an alternative to a cable/satellite subscription.

  6. Alex, been looking for this for quite some time. Quite frankly the BBC shows are much better than anything US television shows are offering. I would quite GLADLY pay a license fee much like UK residents have to pay to have the privilege of watching BBC programming on a regular basis. Not just Top Gear (which BBC America cuts practically in half to fit within an hour), Dr. Who, or Torchwood but literally dozens of shows that I may catch a glance of or have to wait 2-3 years before they have to come out on DVD

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