Your favourite iPlayer shows could soon be available on catch-up for up to a year, after Ofcom provisionally approved BBC plans to significantly extend the window and aid its battle against Netflix.
Currently, the BBC offers access to first run shows for 30-days after their initial airing, but under new proposals, the window will be extended to a full 12-months as standard. Facing a threat from the always-available content from other streaming providers, the Corporation sees extending availability as another way to keep pace.
After the initial approval, Ofcom will make a final decision on the matter in August. The broadcast regulator had been considering whether proposals would damage competition among other public service providers and other video-on-demand platforms.
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However, its initial view is that the changes will “increase choice and availability of public-service broadcast content, and help ensure the BBC remains relevant in the face of changing viewing habits” and “deliver significant public value over time.”
The BBC agrees. In a statement a spokesperson said the changes would “give viewers more value for their licence fee and mean we can better keep up with their growing expectations. We hope Ofcom can now confirm its decision swiftly so we can start giving licence fee payers the BBC iPlayer they want and deserve.”
The changes will also close a weird loophole where the first episode of a series would disappear from the iPlayer before the final episode had aired, making it hard for users to blitz through an entire series before the final episode is screened.
The BBC iPlayer currently accounts for 15% of the UK’s streaming market, a significant drop off from the 40% share it owned five years ago. However, while the changes could impact local competitors like All 4 and ITV Hub, Ofcom seems to think that the threat from the US-based streaming giants warrants the Beeb taking action.