BBC executives are said to be planning a new ‘”download-to-own” service that will allow U.K. viewers to purchase TV shows online at around £1.89 ($3) an episode. The BBC is hoping that the scheme, dubbed “Project Barcelona,” will be able to rival iTunes.
paidContent reports that the BBC has already begun rights negotiations with independent producers, and that they support the scheme, believing it could represent yet another revenue opportunity and a “defense against piracy.”
But despite their positive stance, producers aren’t ready to commit to the scheme just yet. They want clarification from the BBC over revenue share and exclusivity, and they want assurance that the move won’t cannibalize DVD sales, according to paidContent.
But the BBC is reportedly offering producers a greater share of the profits than they currently get from iTunes, with around £0.40 ($0.63) per every episode sold, as opposed to the £0.28 ($0.44) they get from Apple. “It thinks it can unlock at least £13 million in revenue in the next five years for independent producers,” the report says.
The BBC currently offers a catch-up service called BBC iPlayer, which allows viewers to watch their favorite shows online for up to 30 days after their first transmission. However, once that period is up, the rights are passed to BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, which licenses them to services like iTunes and Blinkbox sale.
The problem is, only 7% of the BBC’s catalog is available through this scheme, so it hopes to sell the other 93% through its own service.
According to information seen by paidContent, the project is “about making what is effectively seen as non-commercial programming available to the market at a price and ease of use that will encourage consumers to purchase programmes that the commercial market would not make available due to the poor returns and risk involved”.
It’s unclear how exactly the service will work, and it’s still in its early stages. Even if the BBC does get producer backing, it will have to put the scheme forward to the BBC Trust for approval.