License glee! BBC iPlayer can now host shows for a whole year

Hooray!

Ofcom has permitted the BBC to extend the length of time that its shows are available to watch on iPlayer.

The change means that iPlayer programmes will remain on the TV catch-up service for a year rather than the current 30-day limit. In some instances shows will be kept on the platform beyond 12 months.

Richard Madden as David Budd in ‘Bodyguard’

Ofcom’s decision, which the BBC hailed as “great news”, followed the regulator’s recent competition assessment. It added that the change “could deliver significant public value over time”.

Extending programmes beyond a 30-day watch period will likely have “an adverse impact” on rival services, Ofcom also said, but public value will outweigh such a scenario.

The change comes ahead of the launch of BritBox, a joint BBC and ITV TV subscription that launches in the UK later this year. The paid-for service looks to rival other platforms such as Netflix. Shows including Love Island, Gavin & Stacey, and Broadchurch will be on the new streaming service when they fall off the original broadcasters’ catch-up platforms.

Killing Eve

Noting BritBox, Ofcom added that the change to iPlayer “could increase choice and availability of public-service broadcast content, and help ensure the BBC remains relevant in the face of changing viewing habits”.

In 2018 the most watched programme on iPlayer was Bodyguard (12.6m requests for the finale) followed by Killing Eve.

Ofcom estimated that “the increase in BBC iPlayer viewing could be 14%-24% for general content and 6%-9% for children’s content, with an overall increase in BBC iPlayer viewing… of 20%-33%”.

The BBC will now have to negotiate with independent production companies who make many of its shows to formalise the extensions.