The BBC has announced the planned launch of its iPlayer which will enable BBC viewers and listeners to ‘catch up’ with the previous seven days of programming online. This initiative has been in the works for some time and the BBC is positioning it as an online version of Freeview and inviting third parties to participate.
However, where this offering gets really interesting is its commercial aspirations, which are all the more pressing in the context of the reduced funding levels determined by the license fee settlement with the UK government. The BBC plans to cover many of the costs with ad-supported content and paid downloads, which of course takes it head to head with iTunes et al. Just how seriously the competitive alignment will be remains to be seen. But not even considering the download aspect, the iPlayer will once again see the BBC setting a standard which the commercial sector will both complain is a distortion of the market through public sector funding, yet also strive to emulate.