BBC to launch on-demand videos

3pmediabbclogo.JPGThe BBC Trust today approved the BBC’s on-demand project, with a final consultation to be held May 2, 2007. The service will allow users to view or download popular programs like Doctor Who, 7 days after their original broadcast. The BBC then plans on releasing its iPlayer application, which will let users play a program 30 days after it has been downloaded or 7 days after it has been watched. The original plan was to let users keep downloaded programs 13 weeks on their hard drives but had to be brought down to 30 days because of Ofcom’s (the UK communications industry regulator) worry that the iPlayer would have a “negative effect” on competitors. But users will still be able to use the “series stacking” feature to keep watched series more than 7 days.

In a sense, the BBC breaks off from the traditional model seen in the majority of broadcast companies. According to WebTVWire, the reason is that the British network is only interested in ratings and doesn’t have to worry about advertising. Other stations are tied to a model where advertising space can be sold at extremely lucrative prices. Joost, the new P2P TV project, should prove traditional channels wrong by embedding advertising into their on-demand service.

It’s interesting to see how the BBC justifies cutting down storage time for episodes. Chris Woolard, head of finance, economics and strategy at the Trust says that “if (users) don’t look at (content) within 48 hours, they don’t look at it at all”. Kind of an easy way of justifying putting more control on content. While the on-demand service is an exciting way of broadcasting episodes it’s clear that management is making sure they keep a tight grip on it.

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