BBC iPlayer is set to launch an international version next year following approval by the BBC Trust, bringing on-demand BBC TV shows to a worldwide audience.
BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith told the Telegraph that the move would let overseas fans of shows such as Doctor Who and Top Gear ‘get their fix legitimately’, and would also have the potential of opening up a new revenue stream for the entire UK production industry.
Online, on-demand TV services, such as the BBC iPlayer or Channel 4oD, let you watch TV shows when you want to rather than having to stick to the TV schedule. If you’re yet to experience the freedom of on-demand TV, find out more in the free Which? online TV guide.
You can currently only watch BBC iPlayer within the UK. Fans of BBC shows who try to watch iPlayer outside of the UK will find themselves unable to view due to rights restrictions.
International viewing restrictions apply both to those who live abroad as well as UK residents who try to stream or download iPlayer shows to their laptops or mobile phones when they are abroad.
The only way around this is to download an iPlayer show before you leave the UK – according to the BBC iPlayer website this can then be watched anywhere in the world.
If you want to stream or download video to your mobile while you’re abroad, check costs before you go – high roaming data costs mean a single half hour TV show could cost you hundreds of pounds. Find out more about the cost of using your mobile abroad on the new Which? mobile switching site, Which? Mobile.
International iPlayer may take advertising
Overseas viewers do not pay a TV licence fee, meaning that an international version of the iPlayer will have to be funded differently.
One option is for the international version of the iPlayer to show advertising. Alternatively, viewers may be charged a fee for using the international iPlayer service. No decision has yet been reached about which of these options will be adopted.
Luke Bradley-Jones, MD of Global iPlayer, told the Telegraph: ‘Our research has shown there is an international audience of British TV fans that are frequently watching TV online – and we are excited about rolling out our iPlayer VOD [video-on-demand] service to meet and grow this demand.’
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