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BBC Worldwide, the corporation’s commercial wing, is planning to launch a pay-for video-on-demand portal, a range of new paid mobile apps and a series of ecommerce partnerships overseas, after enduring a “nightmare” year in the depressed international advertising economy.
Similar to iPlayer in the UK, the VOD platform has been under development for six months and would offer 1) catchup for the BBC’s international channels like BBC America, 2) “premium catalogue material” like Doctor Who, Torchwood and Top Gear and 3) material from the BBC’s deep archives, BBC.com MD and EVP Luke Bradley-Jones revealed to paidContent:UK. The focus will be on America, where 20 million of BBC.com’s 50 million users are.
“It’s inevitable that we, the digital media business, need to move to a mix of paid services,” he said. “There just aren’t enough ad dollars to support traditional media models. Consumers will pay for services they truly value… we can exploit many more monetisable opportunities, including in the paid space.”
The proposal will require BBC Trust approval. BBCWW will be making its intentions clear to the trust in the next few weeks but a formal submission will not yet be compiled. The BBC must walk a fine line between serving its domestic license fee payers and commercialisation, through which BBCWW hands profit back to the UK for public service investment.
Is this the fabled “global iPlayer”, the VOD platform that has taken Britain by storm and almost single-handsedly popularised mass time-shifting? “We would certainly like to use the brand,” Bradley-Jones said; though the service would be allied with overseas channels and wouldn’t carry domestic UK shows. But it would carry non-BBC shows from the likes of Channel 4, for which BBCWW already has rights to air on BBC America.
Sci-fi BBC shows, which already have a large international fan base, will be at the centre of the platform: “Millions of people love Torchwood and would probably pay 10 bucks an episode rather than two bucks.” BBCWW already syndicated pay-for video to channels like iTunes and YouTube (it pulled £10 million in sales from such arrangements in 2008/09) – but iTunes puts a ceiling on prices and BBCWW believes it can charge more.
More at our sister site paidContent:UK…