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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Icon11 BBC getting ready to charge for online content older than one month
    [BBC takes aim at Netflix...]

    [BBC takes aim at Netflix and the gang of OTT services]

    ... an interesting report says that as its funding levels change, the very British BBC, no doubt through BCC America and other ways, means to compete worldwide with online content providers like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix on over the top devices and smart TVs.

    BBC Worldwide, the commercial part of non-commercial BBC, wants to be totally self-sufficient, not beholden to the government for any money. That means it will begin packaging old programming more aggressively online through its own Website.

    British law requires citizens the right to get free catch-up viewing for a month (that, in part, is because Brits pay about $200 per household to get the BBC every year), but now, after that window, downloads will cost.

    In other countries, there’s no doubt about the popularity of BBC fare. I’d like to say Netflix has its “House” and the Beeb’s got its “Abbey” but in fact “Downton Abbey” is from ITV. Still, the popularity of BBC fare here is undeniable, and the popularity of any number of programs from the BBC re-broadcast here over the years, shows the potential for a pretty lucrative online download service in the US and elsewhere.

    That decision to get into the OTT business that way is a change; the BBC had been touting its iPlayer portal. No more. BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie told Broadcast that he wants a single Website as the one-stop-shop for BCC content.

    "It is purely a branding question: If you want content, you go to," Davie said. "It has been too fragmented, and globally it is a ferocious market dominated by U.S. and Asian players — like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon — and we have to have scale and a real competitive edge.”

    Another part of this BBC Worldwide ramp up is up its content, including spending on BBC America. Broadcast Engineering says the BBC is increasing its spending on programming by the equivalent of $48 million, to about $200 million. Right away. some of is going to pay for “Intruders,” an eight-episode original series exec produced by Glen Morgan, who was a cog in the “X-Files” franchise here. That new series is being pitched around the world.
    Warning: I'm not playing with a full deck.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    So this will replace the BBC iPlayer global. I assume they won't end that until this new platform is available. It's not bad, but it's a buck more than Netflix and only runs on iOS. It has lots of content, but only a fraction of the BBC's enormous library and almost nothing current.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Um, yes the BBC iPlayer will eventually be toast, but I hope the free live streams of all the BBC channels will remain.
    [BBC News, BBC1-4 all free live streams with low-level geo-blocking trickery necessary to view]

    Note: BBC 3 is now showing Family Guy, but since they don't have the online rights, BBC3 can only show it on TV.
    Warning: I'm not playing with a full deck.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by PokerFace View Post
    I hope the free live streams of all the BBC channels will remain.
    Why would they stop them? They could start verifying TV licences to use the domestic service.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    As Canada's TV industry is moving behind a paywall for much of its content, the Brits are also contemplating such a move ... though there appears to be stronger support for simply altering the current TV-viewing licence fee to include the 2% of unlicensed folks still using the BBC iPlayer (to legally watch content, without the need to pay for a TV licence).

    The free, live (and up to a 2 hour delay), official streams of the BBC channels and the BBC iPlayer itself, might become subscription-based services in the "near" future (perhaps as soon as: late 2016 or 2017). It's all part of the guessing game that the Brits are playing as more folks use the Internet to watch content. They also released some interesting stats in various articles about the viewing habits of the beloved British public.
    [BBC Licence fee might soon be replaced by subscription fee]

    October 3, 2014

    The TV licence fee could be scrapped and replaced with subscriptions in the biggest shake-up since the BBC was founded in 1922. Some members of the Cabinet are understood to believe the compulsory £145.50 annual charge for television ownership is increasingly outdated. Senior industry figures also believe a fundamental rethink is required in a multi-channel age with more and more viewers using computers and mobile phones to watch programmes on internet catch-up services.

    The BBC’s royal charter, which sets out the corporation’s scope and remit, and funding arrangement – both ten-year agreements – is up for renewal at the end of 2016. The Government has already announced a review of whether non-payment of the licence fee should be decriminalised. Ministers say it cannot be right that 200,000 people a year end up in court accused of not buying a TV licence.

    They face fines of up to £1,000 and a criminal record, with more than 50 [people] a year going to prison. One possibility is for new technology to be used to cut off BBC channels for those who have not paid. Decriminalising non-payment for a licence, supported by most of the Cabinet, would pave the way for more fundamental reform in the charter review, which will begin in earnest after the election.

    One possibility is a subscription model, whereby viewers who want BBC services purchase a ‘bundle’ of channels, or even individual programmes or series. Subscriptions could replace some or all of the compulsory licence fee – breaking the link between owning a TV set and the licence fee.


    David Elstein, a former Sky and ITV television executive, who was a member of a review panel set up by the BBC to assess the corporation’s future, said earlier this year:

    ‘It is socially unjust that so many are fined and indeed go to prison for not paying the licence fee. ‘And it makes more sense too for the BBC to move to subscription from 2020, which is about the date when set-boxes go, and standard definition TV is phased out.’

    You need a TV licence if you watch or record TV as it is being broadcast. This includes the use of devices such as a computer, mobile or DVD recorder. Under a subscription model, rival broadcasters such as ITV would be free.
    [BBC iPlayer should be encrypted says Channel 4 chairman]

    The BBC has fiercely resisted any moves towards subscription, saying it would cost £500m to implement and would lead to "first and second class" licence fee payers.


    James Purnell, the BBC's director of strategy and digital, said the BBC was "up for a discussion about the modernisation of the licence fee". But he warned against charging a fee for the online delivery of BBC services.

    "Online delivery is the future of television, if we were to start charging a subscription, that would be locking ourselves into a ghetto of the past," he said.
    An estimated 500,000 UK homes do not have a television but watch BBC programmes on-demand on the iPlayer.

    [BBC director wants licence fee extended to iPlayer]

    BBC director general Tony Hall wants the licence fee extended to include the estimated 500,000 UK homes where viewers do not have a TV set but watch corporation programmes on-demand on the iPlayer.

    The move would enable the BBC to start charging the estimated 2% of households – 500,000 – in the UK which only consume on-demand TV content, rather than watching programmes live. Hall used a speech at the Oxford Media Convention on Wednesday to mount a robust defence of the BBC and the licence fee, saying it was "one of the finest broadcasting organisations in the world" and "great value for money" reaching 96% of the population every week.

    Far from the licence fee being abolished, as some critics have argued, Hall said it should be extended to take account of the different ways in which people consume TV and radio in the digital age, on their computer, iPad or smartphone.

    "One of the advantages of the licence fee is that it's flexible and has adapted over the years," said Hall.

    "When and how best to take the next step is, of course, a matter for the government.

    "Our view is that there is room for modernisation so that the fee applies to the consumption of BBC TV programmes, whether live on BBC 1 or on-demand via the iPlayer or other devices."

    Hall said the BBC's latest research showed that the public was prepared to spend an average of between £15 and £20 for its services, beyond the £12 a month (or £145.50 a year) households currently pay. He said the accusation that the licence fee was a "dinosaur from a pre-digital age, doomed to inevitable extinction" was inaccurate.

    "Around 90% of all television viewing is still live. Well under 2% of households consume only on-demand TV content. And this number is growing only slowly," he said.

    "Funding by licence fee therefore remains practical and sustainable." Hall described the licence fee as "not a compromise, least-bad option. It underpins the success of the BBC".

    Questioned about the statistic that 10% of magistrates' court cases are taken up by non-payment of the licence fee, Hall said: "Of course I'm not content [with that statistic]. "I go back to what I was saying: what better system could there be than a licence fee and if you remove any penalty on it then, you know, more people will say they won't pay … That is the system we've got."
    [Director general admits the rules regarding the collection of the licence fee are out of date, leaving a loophole for online viewers]

    “The licence fee is a system that isn’t broken,” said Hall. “Be very careful of techno-determinism. If you get away from the licence fee and go down the subscription model ... you will change the nature of what the BBC is about.

    “The BBC is about brilliant programmes for everyone. A democratic principle is [that it is] there to get to everyone. As soon as you start building paywalls you begin to diminish that democratic process, the essence of the BBC.”

    He admitted that the rules regarding the collection of the £145.50 a year licence fee were out of date, leaving a loophole for viewers to use the BBC iPlayer to watch the corporation’s shows without paying.

    “Do we think we it needs amendment and modification, yes,” he said, speaking to the Commons culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday.

    “To reflect the way people are consuming BBC programmes. We are saying we believe in the licence fee built also saying it needs to change and modernise.”

    James Purnell, the BBC’s director of strategy and digital, said it was “odd” that the licence fee rules had not previously been updated to make payment mandatory for those who choose to eschew TV and use catchup TV services.

    “It could now be amended to include catch up services as well,” he said.

    “There is a question of how the licence fee works in practice and the technology around that, that can be solved through parliament.”

    Purnell argued against one form of subscription which has been mooted which would see consumers pay for a licence fee covering a core of BBC services, with an option to pay for more deemed non-core as a “top-up”.

    “There are two issues that may stop that idea in its tracks,” said Purnell.

    “How do you decide which services would be in the main licence fee and which would be in the top up. It is likely quite hard to get to agreement about that. Creating the bit for marginal [services] would be very hard. And it might be pretty hard to get money to fund those services.”

    He said that even if it was possible to identify non-core “top-up” services, and fund them, the BBC said it did not deliver savings to the public.

    “Even if it could be done I’m not sure it would be a terribly good idea in practice,” he said.

    “We tried to model it - putting BBC3, BBC4, online and iPlayer [in top up] - and it would only save a household £1.40 per month. But if they wanted to pay to get them all back they would pay twice the [monthly] licence fee they are at the moment. Far more people would lose than win, and what they are getting is quite marginal”.

    He added: “Why we believe in the licence fee, we believe everyone wins because everyone pays. We believe the licence fee is the right system for the future.”
    [Why the licence fee is the best way to fund the BBC]

    As part of the last licence fee settlement, around £250 million per year of licence fee income was earmarked to pay for a range of non-BBC activities, including broadband infrastructure and local TV. Whether this is an appropriate use of the licence fee merits debate at Charter review.

    The following article link is filled with many valid reasons for NOT going to a subscription-based model for BBC content, but I only included a few of those reasons and explanations in my quotes from the article:
    [Why subscription isn't the best way to fund the BBC]

    July 15, 2014

    written by James Heath BBC Director of Policy

    Loss of universality

    Under a subscription model, the BBC’s incentives would change. Normally, subscription prices are set at a revenue maximising level in order for the services to prosper. Previous research suggests that were it entirely subscription-funded, the BBC would need to charge £20 per month, 65% higher than the current licence fee, for the same number of services. As a result, the BBC would become much less affordable. Our reach among the public would suffer.

    Subscription channels are very good at serving specific audiences but the social and cultural value of the BBC comes from its universal availability as well as the range and breadth of our output. Take, as an example, the audiences for drama in the UK vs the United States. 1 in 25 of US population watched the biggest episode of Breaking Bad on the subscription channel AMC compared to 1 in 5 of UK population watched Sherlock on BBC1.

    Reduction of choice and investment

    ...We also know that the costs of operating a subscription service would be significantly greater than those of collecting the licence fee (at £100 million per year), thereby reducing the money available to the BBC for content investment.

    What about transition costs?

    Although subscription is now technically possible it would also face major execution challenges. While pay-TV users have set top boxes or other equipment with 'conditional access modules' (CAM) that enable subscription, pay TV equipment is only in just over 50% of households. Around 11.5m households have free-to-air TV alone, while a total of almost 20m households have at least one 'free' TV set. This equipment would have to be fitted with CAMs or replaced, at an estimated cost of around £500 million. Meanwhile, it is not technically feasible to encrypt the BBC's broadcast radio services and therefore limit consumption only to those paying for it. What would happen to BBC radio?

    Is a hybrid funding model more promising?


    c) Online distribution, such as subscription VOD. This is not yet a mass activity and the entirety of the UK industry’s revenues in 2012 would not be enough to cover the current service costs of BBC Four.

    ... We assumed that the services would remain advertising-free as this is one of the public’s most valued characteristics of the BBC.

    The headline conclusion is that the services would be very unlikely to generate sufficient revenues to cover their service costs. And the challenge is all the greater because moving to subscription would introduce new costs as outlined above, including customer acquisition and retention, platform charges for carriage, and transition costs.

    Even if you were to imagine the subscription services were commercially viable, those paying would have to spend significantly more to get the BBC. This is the third problem – loss of consumer welfare. Those wishing to continue receiving all current services would pay double the current licence fee (i.e. c£12.55 per month extra). Even taking just one service on a subscription basis would exceed the licence fee saving.

    And how much could households who choose not to subscribe to any of the services save through a lower ‘core’ licence fee? A maximum of c£1.40 per month, assuming all the services covered their costs on a subscription basis, which our analysis suggests is unlikely. We calculate that the total loss of consumer surplus would be over £150m per year from putting BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC Online plus BBC iPlayer behind a pay-wall.

    Rather than delivering the best of both worlds, our initial analysis suggests that under a hybrid model some people would pay significantly more for the same number of services and others would pay a bit less for a lot fewer services. Perhaps more fundamentally, the BBC would be erecting a pay-wall around the digital future.

    Last edited by PokerFace; 11-18-2014 at 03:38 AM. Reason: minor structural changes
    Warning: I'm not playing with a full deck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    The regular BBC iPlayer is still alive and kicking, but the Global version of it is going bye-bye as of June 26th.
    [BBC Global iPlayer to close in June]

    The global iPlayer app was first made available as an iOS app in July 2011 but was never extended beyond Apple's platform. European users were charged a €5.99 (£4.30) monthly fee, while Canadians and Australians were offered a slightly cheaper rate of 6.99 Canadian dollars (£3.70) and 7.49 Australian dollars (£3.80). The content provided was distinct from that offered via the UK version, including older shows from the corporation's library in addition to recently broadcast programmes.

    "We would like to thank all of our subscribers for using the service. We are now developing plans to launch new digital services across multiple devices," reads a statement on BBC Worldwide's site.
    Warning: I'm not playing with a full deck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    The BBC iPlayer is still around for us to watch, but I have started to see the cracks in some of the programming, in the same way that I see it in Canadian programming. The budget constraints, the same actors used over and over again, and the fact that watching British TV (or from any country for that matter) now seems less exotic to me, although still good enough at times to keep me coming back for more ... just not as often as it used to. Nothing has really changed except for my perception of it all.
    Warning: I'm not playing with a full deck.



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