The BBC has revealed that it is to offer additional backing to its online platform, with BBC iPlayer to premiere a selection of shows ahead of their first TV broadcasts.
A first for the leading broadcaster, the BBC has confirmed that as part of a 12 month trial, a selection of new programmes and content will hit BBC iPlayer prior to being shown to terrestrial TV viewers for the first time.
Although the BBC has yet to announce exactly which programmes will be debuted via the online catch-up and on-demand service, the broadcaster has confirmed that, during the trial period, up to 40 hours of previously unseen content will premiere via BBC iPlayer with the programming covering “a range of genres.”
“During 2012, the BBC brought selected online-only programmes to audiences,” Ian Walker, BBC publicist for future media said. “These included BBC Three comedy pilots, a Doctor Who web series called ‘Pond Life’, and curated archive programmes for BBC Four. We will build on this in 2013, and make more programming exclusively available to our audiences via BBC iPlayer.
The BBC’s announcement comes as online streaming specialists Netflix and LoveFilm explore their own, online-only exclusive content, a move that has recently seen House of Cards, staring Kevin Spacey, forgo traditional broadcasting in favour of an online launch.
“This is a very interesting experiment to see how much people follow specific shows,” media analyst Claire Enders told the Daily Telegraph. “The BBC accounts for about 20 per cent of all viewing in this country, and it is such a significant force that it can afford to experiment.”
Although not the first time BBC iPlayer has been used to show previously unseen content, the upcoming trial is to see more recognisable and high-profile content hit the online service first than the pilots and one-off shows that have featured to date.
Capitalising on users’ growing demands for on-demand content, BBC iPlayer recorded record viewing figures in 2012 with the last 12 months sees a staggering 2.32 billion content requests made, up from the 1.94 billion TV and radio requests made in 2011.
Continuing to be rolled out across a broad range of platforms, BBC iPlayer has expanded well beyond its desktop routes with the Beeb’s on-demand content know accessible via Sky , iPhone, Android and BlackBerry 10 apps as well as on a selection of Smart TVs, home entertainment systems and consoles such as the Xbox 360.
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