BBC iPlayer on the iPad - easier than stealing?
By Adam TURNER
All-you-can-eat TV from the Beeb is another blow to both traditional broadcasting and piracy.
Television networks have been dictating our viewing habits for more than 50 years, but technology has finally put viewers in the driver's seat. Television schedules are a thing of the past - these days we can watch what we want, when we want and where we want.
The two biggest threats to free-to-air broadcasting are piracy and subscription services - as both make it easy to watch your favourite shows when you suits you. And it seems the only way that subscription services will fend off piracy is to make it easier to pay for content than to steal it. The new global BBC iPlayer app for Apple’s iPad is an excellent example of such a service.
For $9.49 per month or $89.99 per year, the app aims to put a large swath of the BBC’s 70 year archive at your fingertips. It’s not a Catch Up TV service like the ABC’s iView, which puts up programs hours after they go to air locally and pulls them down after a few weeks. That’s a frustrating system which means if you discover a new show after three episodes, you can’t use the ABC’s iView to catch up.
Alternatively the global BBC iPlayer app keeps the entire back catalogue of many TV series online, letting you pick up shows from episode one. So unlike the free iView service, the paid BBC service really lets you watch want you want when you want it. You can watch programs on the iPad or stream them to your television via an Apple TV, although BBC Worldwide Australia hopes to extend it to other devices and platforms.
“All the studies we’ve done have found that people who pirate things would not pirate them if there was a real alternative, so we think this does help with that,” says Tony Iffland - general manager of BBC Worldwide Australia.
Like it or loathe it, Apple’s iTunes store has proven that people are prepared to pay for content if you make it easy - even if that content is available for free via channels such as BitTorrent. All-you-can-eat subscription models are the way of the future and it looks like the BBC is going to lead the way as Apple drags its feet.
What do you think, is all-you-can-eat TV from the Beeb enough to win back pirates? Will free-to-air TV be the big loser?
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How they would offset that against their overseas sales is another thing to consider also.
At the moment it seems to be very heavy on drama and weak on documentaries - there are so many great bbc docs that this is missing a trick. The docs that are there are a bit haphazard in terms of scope - e.g, sticking the best of horizon on there would be a good start as they'll never make any money from selling that. (c.f. dramas like Doctor Who, where there's a huge dvd/online sales)
It works well with the new (black) apple tv too, though apple tv needs to have its software upgraded and you need to disable the auto-lock.