Ofcom Gives Provisional Go Ahead for BBC iPlayer Changes

Mike Wheatley

Ofcom says it’s provisionally approving the BBC’s plans to make programmes available on its iPlayer service for up to 12 months, extending its previous 'catch-up' model where they were only offered for 30 days.


BBC News said the change, which was officially requested last month, would increase the choice and availability of public-service broadcast content, ensuring the Beeb “remains relevant in the face of changing viewing habits”.

Ofcom will however reserve its final decision on the matter until August, noting that the changes could pose “challenges” to the video on demand services of other public service broadcasters.

The regulator says affected parties have until July 10th to comment on its decision.

The BBC said it hopes Ofcom will confirm the decision “swiftly” so that it can start providing television licence payers with “the BBC iPlayer they want and deserve.”

BBC’s iPlayer has proven to be a big hit with British television viewers. For example its most popular show last year was Bodyguard, with the first episode receiving almost 11 million requests. Killing Eve’s first episode came second with 9.23 million requests, despite only being available on the service for one month.

It’s assumed that the new rules would help the iPlayer to better compete with services such as Netflix, offering much greater convenience to viewers.

The ruling comes at a time of increased competition in the video streaming market, with companies including Apple and Disney both set to launch their own services later in the year, while established player such as Netflix and Amazon increase their output of original content. The iPlayer’s big advantage however is that it’s free to use for all TV licence payers.