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BBC Worldwide To Offer Commercial TV Downloads Service

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The BBC has offered further details confirming BBC Worldwide is developing a commercial online media player that will distribute shows abroad after they have dropped off the free iPlayer service. The application will be available from the revenue-raising arm from early 2008. A BBC spokesperson told paidContent:UK the domestic iPlayer, which offers free downloads to UK viewers on a public service basis, was “an extension of free-to-air linear broadcasting and (only) relates to seven-day programme catch-up”. BBC Worldwide’s version, however, “would offer on-demand content licensed to it by the BBC on a commercial basis, the content would be available after the seven-day catch-up service“.

We’ve also been told – although there’s no confirmation from BBC Worldwide – that the offering is part of so-called “Project Kangaroo”. The Guardian nibbled at this in June, when it offered that name as an initiative being worked on to unify the burgeoning number of online TV viewing options. We’re told today it’s the codename for a BBC Worldwide media player that potentially could be part of a service offered from various broadcasters. BBC Worldwide said plans will be unveiled before the end of the year, but there’s no word on whether the commercial offering will be ad-supported or pay-to-download.

There’s plenty of revenue potential in commercial exploitation of long-tail UK TV shows internationally. Currently, BBC’s public service iPlayer lets UK viewers download free TV programs within a week after transmission, with downloads expiring after 30 days or within a week of viewing; ITV.com and Channel 4’s 4OD offer a 30-day free TV catch-up opportunity while older 4OD shows go for £0.99; and Five so far sells CSI and Gray’s Anatomy for viewing within 14 days of download. Meanwhile, although the BBC this week said Flash would be used to power a streaming iPlayer that works on Mac and Linux, the BBC Trust clarified that it must also offer users of those systems the ability to download shows like Windows Xp users can (via BBC News).