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BBC to Bow Web-Based VOD

30 Apr, 2007 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC), the venerable, state-operated television network, April 30 announced it has been cleared by an independent review board to launch an Internet-based video-on-demand service reportedly in November.

The service would offer all BBC programming, including domestic and foreign movies, TV, sports, comedy, news and weather, free for download for up to seven days after network transmission.

The move comes as the BBC and other U.K.-based traditional broadcasters seek to capture an audience that internal studies suggest is switching from linear to on-demand content.

The BBC said its expects the iPlayer to account for 7.5% the network's TV consumption by 2011, excluding another 3.8% for simultaneous online/TV broadcasts.

To comply with provisions established by the BBC Trust designed to allay concerns from commercial broadcasters, iPlayer users would be limited to “series stacking” (recording) up to 15% of available on-demand content.

In addition, all iPlayer content, which excludes books-on-tape and classical music, will include digital rights management (DRM) technology and be platform neutral.

Commercial U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 recently launched 4OD, a Web-based VOD service that has reportedly attracted more than 1 million users downloading more than 20 million episodes on the six-month-old service.

The Financial Times of London reported that ITV would soon release results from its nascent online service that allows users to record, archive material and download select U.S. programming in addition to pay-per-view previews.

“We are facing unprecedented rates of change in technology and audience expectations,” said Ashley Highfield, director of future media and technology with the BBC. “This is a significant decision as the new on-demand proposals are at the heart of the BBC's creative future.”

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