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March 4, 2011

International BBC iPlayer finally quotes a price

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by Tom Coyne

The BBC’s Director General, Mark Thompson has revealed that Auntie’s international iPlayer app will definitely be launched by the end of this year.

In the past, Thompson has repeatedly told media that the iPlayer will go international at some stage, however at the FT Digital Media Broadcasting Conference, he explained that the international iPlayer will be available for just under $10 a month.

Thompson’s exact words on the price were that it would cost, “A small number of dollars per month, definitely fewer then 10”.

The global iPlayer will not be the BBC’s entire UK services for a year wrapped up in an app.

It will be a combination of current and past shows, editorially tailored for different international audiences.

By contrast, the licence fee entitles UK households to receive 10 TV channels, 15 national and 40 local radio services, BBC Online, BBC Mobile and BBC iPlayer - all free at the point of use.

This access to new, live content via TV, radio and online is clearly very different from the great British programmes that will be available on the global iPlayer.

Future profits from the global iPlayer will be reinvested back into the BBC to help make great, original programmes for UK licence fee payers.

Mark Thompson has also urged various broadcasters, the government, and mobile phone companies, to help put together a road map for mobile television.

He stated, “I believe that there’s a strong case for the UK’s broadcasters, mobile phone operators, Ofcom and government to come together to develop a roadmap for the introduction of mobile TV in this country,”

He then went on to add, “This would be complementary to the availability of TV content on demand, whether streamed or cached on the device and would enable the public to access time-critical content - news, major sports events and so on - wherever they are.”

Talking a little more on price, the BBC’s online offering currently costs 67p per UK household, which is a good deal in comparison to £7.85 a month for TV.

This means that if a US user watching iPlayer was to pay out for a years worth of usage, they would be paying half of what the UK pays in total for a television license.

Apparently, 162 million programmes, an average of 6 a household, were downloaded via BBC iPlayer in the UK in January.

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