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BBC given green light for international iPlayer


By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 8 Nov 2010 at 11:42

The BBC is to launch a global version of its iPlayer catch-up TV service, giving business travellers and ex-pats a taste of home from abroad.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the corporation - will launch the service next year after being given approval by the BBC Trust.

"Not only will that mean international fans of, for example, Doctor Who can get their fix legitimately [rather than downloading programmes illegally], but it has the potential of opening up a new revenue stream for the entire UK production industry, alongside sales to traditional broadcasters," the newspaper quoted John Smith, the chief executive of BBC Worldwide, as saying.

It is unclear yet how the revenue would be gathered – it could come from a pay-per-view model charging up to $10 for popular programs, or be based on advertising, or a combination of the two.

The iPlayer has until now been unavailable outside the UK, leading users to complain they couldn't use the service when on business trips even though they had paid for it through the television licence fee.

Whether they will pay again to access the service while away from home remains to be seen, but people living in other countries may see the service as a viable alternative to buying series DVDs.

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User comments

I can't see why would anyone pay for an episode of Life of plants for example if they could pay for a DVD to play anytime, as many times as they want and without choking their broadband. If BBC will try to milk it that way it just won't work. People abroad will stick to torrents. They're free and you can burn them onto a disk to watch later on your big telly. They need to realize that watching an episode or two of any series will not stop people from wanting DVD box-sets, on the contrary, so keeping iPlayer content free to stream they do win financially in the long run.

By Josefov on 8 Nov 2010


You can already access the data by using a proxy server or VPN to make it look like your connection is from the UK. I can't see how the BBC would be able to police a commercial model.

By Mark535 on 8 Nov 2010

Always "something for nothing"

If the BBC makes this available for free worldwide, without any form of protection, the world gets our TV for free, and we have to pay.

I'm sure there are many options, such as requiring an account that is validated against a TV License. But whatever option, it will require effort and cost to create and maintain.

People want the BBC to be advert free, free to use abroad, pioneering in internet streaming, and continue to begrudge having to pay a license fee.

To be honest, the people who whinge and whine can go ignored. The people with positive options and attitudes are the only people I would truely pay attention to.

By matbailie on 8 Nov 2010

Licence number

I still believe the best way to do this would be to make it so you can register on the site and if you have a Licence number (i.e. from paying for a TV licence) and enter it, then you get to see the whole lot, if not you see previews/free bits and get charged for some stuff.

That would get round the proxy and if they got the pricing structure right would attract a lot of people in.

Plus if we could pay a little bit to download and keep stuff (preferably DRM free, or at least in a format I could play on anything I own) I might even consider paying for some things (especially as I'm converting all my DVD's to be held on my HTPC as is).

By stevenutt on 8 Nov 2010


1. What would stop you from 'lending' your licence number to a friend living in Spain (let's assume, of course) to watch a programme or two?

2. Don't convert them, you'll be breaking the law. Unless, like Jon Honeyball, you set up a special office to do so in Germany :)

By Josefov on 8 Nov 2010

I'll have two please

I have SKY in both France and Switzerland. I wish I was simply allowed to pay for a UK TV license.

By simplefruit on 9 Nov 2010


1. To me this is the same thing as lending books via Kindle or Nook (although I still don't think these are quite done right). You should no longer be able to use the service. Admittedly you could still watch "normal" TV, but who does that now a days anyway...

2. Exactly my office in Germany, where fair use actually means something.

By stevenutt on 8 Dec 2010

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