Thursday 22 August 2019

Ofcom approves BBC plan to extend iPlayer catch-up window to 12 months

Shows are currently on the platform for 30 days.

A general view of the BBC iPlayer’s home page (Philip Toscano/PA)
A general view of the BBC iPlayer’s home page (Philip Toscano/PA)

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Ofcom has approved the BBC’s plan to extend iPlayer’s catch-up window to 12 months, subject to “certain conditions and guidance”.

The broadcaster intends to change iPlayer from a 30-day catch-up service to make programmes available for 12 months as standard, with some available for longer.

All children’s programming will be available for five years under the proposals.

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BBC iPlayer (Nick Ansell/PA)

Ofcom said proposed changes to BBC iPlayer could deliver significant public value over time and could increase choice and availability of public service broadcast content and help ensure the BBC remains relevant in the face of changing viewing habits.

However, the watchdog added it remains concerned about the competitive challenges it would create, particularly for other public service broadcasters’ video-on-demand services, such as the ITV Hub and 4OD.

A statement said: “While we have concluded that the public value justifies the adverse impact on fair and effective competition we have identified, and the BBC can proceed with its plans, this is subject to certain conditions and guidance.

“Our conditions will help ensure that the new BBC iPlayer delivers future public value, and will mitigate risks to fair and effective competition.”

The BBC has already announced it will put box sets and new shows commissioned specially for the service on the new streaming platform BritBox.

The streamer will also feature content from ITV when it launches in the autumn.

Shows such as Love Island, Gentleman Jack, Gavin & Stacey, Victoria, Happy Valley, Broadchurch, Les Miserables, The Office and Benidorm will go on the service.

A BBC spokesman said: “It’s great news that we will be able to proceed with our plans to transform BBC iPlayer. By making shows available for longer and by expanding choice, we’ll be able offer so much more to the public.

“We’ll continue to engage with the whole industry both directly and where appropriate via Pact (trade association for independent film and TV companies) in order to deliver these changes to audiences.”

PA Media

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