BBC Hopes To Rival iTunes With New ‘Download-To-Own’ TV Show Service



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.

  • FriarNurgle

    Does anyone actually pay for movies/shows through iTunes? I’ve yet to see Apple include that stat in a presentation. 

  • prof_peabody

    I would pay for shows if they were reasonably priced.  Two pounds (probably two dollars in NA), a show is a lot closer to “reasonable” than iTunes.  

    iTunes in NA charges 3 or 4 dollars a show (minimum) for SD copies of a single episode.  On a show with 24 or more episodes a season that’s almost a hundred bucks for a season of a TV show which is just plain ridiculous.  

  • Al

    Television Centre in the picture will be a relic of the past soon. It’s already up for sale, and all programmes will cease to broadcast from there in 2013.

    Everything is either moving, or already has moved, to Broadcasing House in central London or Media City in Manchester.

  • welladriansays

    For access to BBC shows direct from the UK i would gladly pay a licence fee. – BBC america and canada are a disgrace

  • Finlay MacArthur

    Well I use Apple TV and rent a few films per month. It’s actually cheeper to rent films from Apple than my local cable company. I wouldn’t pay for the BBC content as we’ve already payed for it through our TV licence, cheeky gits…….

  • Shaun Green

    I’ve downloaded a lot of TV shows from iTunes. I prefer it to buying the DVDs.

    The only problem is the lack of content available. There is not much of a back catalgue to chose from and some of my fav shows are missing altogether. I really hope this happens soon.

  • CharliK

    I do. Especially overseas stuff. I love the new Sherlock and my sister loves Merlin. Our only gripe is that we have to wait until they OTA here to get them on iTunes. I’m staunchly anti-torrent because of my job being in the industry but at the same time I think that the nets need to stop hampering digital with such rules because I know that it does lead to torrenting. Put it online after the original viewing and take away that ‘excuse’, put better quality, revise quality on old seasons, include the disk extras etc and you might actually achieve the goal of reducing piracy.

    Same advice to HBO etc

  • CharliK

    If that NA is supposed to be North America, your numbers are a bit off. The only shows that are 4 dollars an episode are cable ones generally at HD and only 12-13 episodes if that. And they generally have a season price that is a few dollars lower. 

    Same with the broadcast shows that all top off at $2.99 an episode for their 22-24 hour run. Buy the season and it comes out less. You will never pay $100 for a season of a show.