BBC iPlayer to go international on iPad

Speaking at the Digital TV Summit, managing director Luke Bradley-Jones revealed that the BBC plans to make its iPlayer streaming video service available internationally next year on a subscription basis—and that service will initially debut on the Apple iPad. Currently, iPlayer content—which includes BBC Radio as well as BBC television productions like the wildly popular Doctor Who and Top Gear— is accessible only within the United Kingdom.

BBC launched iPlayer back in 2007 to some controversy: initially, the service was available only on Windows XP, then expanded streaming-only service to other platforms via a Flash-based player, and recently released a player for iOS devices.

Although some BBC programming is available as paid downloads internationally via Apple’s iTunes store, a paid iPlayer subscription service would make a god deal more BBC content available internationally, particular if BBC expands the service beyond the Apple iPad. Licensing agreements have been one barrier to making BBC programming available outside the UK.

UK residents pay a yearly tax to support BBC programming; outside the UK, iPlayer content will be available on a subscription basis, potentially creating a significant new revenue channel for the BBC. The BBC has not announced a definitive time frame for an international version of its iPlayer service, nor has it announced any pricing.

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