BBC launches “global” iPlayer app – in Europe

The BBC has finally taken the wraps off its iPlayer app for overseas viewers – an on-demand service available only on the iPad.

BBC launches

The subscription-based “global iPlayer” service will offer access to a stock of programs dating back to the 1950s, as well as selected current shows for €6.99/month or €49.99/year via iTunes.

The Beeb said the launch was a pilot and would initially be available only in Europe, serving Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.

According to the corporation, the product is significantly different to its UK-only counterpart, which concentrates on catch-up TV rather than providing a back catalogue. European users can either stream programs or download to watch offline later.

”Aside from its name, look and feel, the commercial global BBC iPlayer shares very little with the UK BBC iPlayer,” said Luke Bradley-Jones, managing director for on the BBC Worldwide blog.

“The global BBC iPlayer is a very different proposition, for a different audience: the underlying technology and subscription business model are different, the rights are acquired on a territory by territory basis, and above all its content is different: 1,500 hours of shows dating from last week back to the 1950’s.

According to the Beeb, the iPad trial should help it understand the size of the market and what overseas viewers want, ahead of a potentially wider rollout to other platforms in the future.

“We’re trialing it there initially to find out exactly what our audiences outside the UK want,” said Bradley-Jones. “Piloting on Apple’s iPad means our addressable market, while niche, should be of sufficient size for us to gain those learnings.”

The corporation said money raised from the project would help prop up services and contribute to making up license fee shortfalls.

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