BBC Worldwide has announced this morning that the iPlayer will now be available in selected European countries on the iPad.
The app is available as a video subscription service and will launch first in western Europe at €6.99 per month, or €49.99 annually. BBC shows are already available for download from iTunes, but it is hoped that more people will be interested in the subscription service, which makes far more content available.
The app will initially be available in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
A key feature of the app is the ability to stream content and download at the same time, so that viewers can watch programmes even when they can’t access a Wi-Fi connection, as well as build a personal library of their favourite shows.
The app will offer eight genres of programmes: News Specials & Documentaries; Entertainment; Drama; Comedy; Science & Nature; Family & Kids; Music & Culture and Lifestyle. New content will be available weekly as well as themed collections from the BBC archives.
Programmes from other UK channels will also be provided, making up around a third of the content, after the BBC agreed deals with channels such as ITV and Channel 4. However, availability will vary by country due to licensing laws.
“We think this should be about the best of the BBC and British creativity,” said Jana Bennett, BBC Worldwide President of Worldwide Networks and Global iPlayer. “This is a pilot – we want to learn more about on-demand behaviour … We think the next phase will be on iPhones and Apple TV.”
She added: “The app combines technical innovation with editorial creativity to transport users to the heart of the BBC and British television; we have an exciting vision for what this service could become and will develop it based on feedback from within the markets.”
John Smith, CEO BBC Worldwide, said that the launch is an important route into marketing a new strategy for the Beeb, and that they are committed to “pursuing multiple platforms” for programmes.
“Today marks a significant next step on a digital journey that has already seen 12m BBC Worldwide apps downloaded across brands as diverse as Lonely Planet and Good Food,” he said.
The new iPlayer differs from the UK version in that it is a subscription service, as opposed to the British version, which is a catch-up service designed for license fee payers.
BBC Worldwide is funding the new service in an effort to gain more overseas customers, in order to generate more revenue to support the broadcasting corporation.