BBC's download service gets green light

Written by Brett Thomas

February 1, 2007 | 09:37

Tags: #bbc-trust

Companies: #bbc

It wasn't long ago that we were reporting on the BBC turning to torrents for worldwide distribution. Many people had an opinion of it then, which leads me to believe many of you will have an opinion on this bit of news. The BBC Trust, which is barely a month old, has already approved plans for a BBC video download service.

The new plan differs from the torrent plan in a few respects. First of all, it will use a special player, known as iPlayer (no relation to Apple), designed specifically for the content. There is also no word on whether the service will actually be fee-based, instead possibly being limited only to BBC license holders. This would be a very large change, as many people argued that torrents for people who don't pay the license fees should be more expensive than for those who do.

The most important difference from the torrent setup, however, is that the downloads will be time-sensitive. Shows will be invalid within 30 days after download or one week from being watched, and can only be downloaded within a week from their air dates. There will be some exceptions to this rule, but details for which shows would count differently have not yet emerged. Chris Woolard, the head of finance for the Trust, explained the time window: "If [viewers] don't look at it within 48 hours, they don't watch it at all," he said.

Personally, as a frequent user of an MCE setup, I'm inclined to disagree with this assessment. In my house, it's not uncommon for something to sit on the back burner for two or three weeks. However, I'm sure he probably has the statistics to back up his assertion for the average viewer.

There are still some kinks to be ironed out in the system, such as how parental control will work and which shows will qualify for series stacking. In order to hear out public opinion on these issues and the proposal at large, it has commissioned a two-month public consultation. After that, the Trust will finalise its approval of the service.

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