The BBC has announced plans to launch their critically-acclaimed iPlayer online television catch-up service in foreign markets. The BBC iPlayer currently provides UK viewers the chance to watch over the internet popular TV and radio programmes that they may have missed on regular television. The platform debuted in 2007 and has been upgraded several times since. The latest version integrates with popular social networking sites including Twitter and Facebook.
Prior to the announcement, only computers, laptops and mobile devices located in the United Kingdom could access the content on BBC iPlayer. While many British shows are popular in other countries, the fact that licenses only allow UK viewers to watch on BBC iPlayer has led to the illegal viewing of shows overseas. And although some BBC programmes are available on the iTunes web store for fees ranging from US $3 to $7, not all shows are. This move will enable those who are outside the UK to watch the same BBC programmes as those in the United Kingdom without breaking any laws.
UK residents are required by law to pay television licensing fees if they wish to watch TV programmes either on the box or through the Internet. Therefore, their version of the BBC iPlayer is free of advertisements. However, advertisements are likely play a part in the international version of the BBC iPlayer. Since foreign audiences won’t pay fees, they can expect to either see ads or pay a subscription fee (be it a monthly fee or a fee per show), though the specifics have not been determined. Either way, the delivery of the BBC iPlayer to international markets won’t be the same as to the British market.
The BBC iPlayer International has not been given a particular launch date, but it will be sometime next year. Once that happens, non-UK viewers will be able to watch popular BBC programmes for up to seven days after a show appears on television. This will be a welcome move for international fans of popular BBC shows like Doctor Who and Top Gear.