Tired of having your favourite programmes disappear from BBC iPlayer after 30 days? Following a proposal from the BBC, they now have permission from Ofcom to keep programmes on iPlayer for a full year.
While this is meant to help the BBC compete with streaming services such as Netflix, the new decision also comes with a few conditions.
A few months ago, following a dramatic drop in BBC iPlayer’s market share, the BBC asked the regulator “to improve BBC iPlayer for audiences by making programmes available for longer and offering more box sets and archive titles.”
63% of people surveyed by the BBC at the time, said these types of changes will deliver better value for the licence fee, while 66% felt these changes can make iPlayer more appealing. (Also, there’s still no official way to watch BBC iPlayer when you go abroad – though there are ways to bypass the Geo-blocking).
And while Netflix and Amazon’s market share has grown from 36% to 54% of the UK streaming market, BBC iPlayer’s share has gone down from 50% five years ago, to only 15%.
This week, Ofcom issued a “Final determination” regarding the BBC’s request – and has given permission to stream shows for 12 months instead of 30 days. They say they have “looked at the public value and analysed [these changes’] impact on competition”.
To make sure the BBC won’t have an unfair advantage over rival services, the BBC would need to “closely track the availability and consumption of programmes on BBC iPlayer”, with a new consultation to take place by the end of the year.
With Netflix and Amazon Prime Video controlling such a huge part of the market, some might say this is too little, too late for iPlayer. However, the BBC called this “Great news – we’ll be able to offer so much more to the public.”
This news also comes in light of the upcoming joint streaming service created by the BBC and ITV – BritBox. The new venture will cost £5.99 a month, and will feature older shows from both the BBC and ITV, with some exclusive productions planned down the road.
According to the current plans, new BBC programmes will show up on iPlayer first, and then – possibly after 12 months – will move to BritBox. It remains to be seen whether these two services can co-exist in a meaningful way.