The BBC has plans to create an online hub where customers can download both new and old TV shows, a report is claiming. Such a service would be a direct competitor to the TV offerings from Apple iTunes, and the BBC is said to be offering content creators better incentives to participate.
The initial report is from paidContent, which does not cite a source, only "information" the site had seen.
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The plan, said to be code-named "Project Barcelona," is ambitious. In addition to new shows, many of which are currently available for streaming in various countries via BBC iPlayer, the 85-year-old U.K. broadcaster wants to put big chunks of its archive online as well. The BBC is reportedly in negotiations with several studios to secure the rights for content it doesn't already own.
The BBC would give content creators a better share of the revenues, £0.40 instead of the £0.28 that iTunes gives them, according to the report. And it's not exclusive -- taking part in the BBC's new service wouldn't preclude offering content through iTunes as well.
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Currently, once an episode is broadcast on the BBC, it's available for 30 days online via iPlayer. After that period expires, the rights revert to BBC Worldwide or the original producers, but reportedly only 7% of shows that expire are still available somewhere digitally. Barcelona is the BBC's effort to see that the other 93% is included, while simultaneously offering up its archive.
Once the BBC secures the rights to do that, it would still need to seek approval from various entities. Although it wouldn't acknowledge the project, the BBC told Mashable in a statement that, "In addition to BBC iPlayer, the BBC already makes some of its content available on a download-to-own basis. Any proposal to extend this facility would require not just the support of the industry but formal approval by the BBC Executive and the BBC Trust."
Such bureaucracy stems from the fact that the BBC is publicly funded. Every citizen with a TV in the U.K. is required to buy an annual television license, which currently costs £145.50 (about $230). It's expected that there would be some opposition any plan that seeks to levy more fees for BBC content.
Whether or not the new service would be offered outside the U.K. isn't mentioned. Project Barcelona appears to be a U.K.-centered effort, although the BBC's broader digital strategy has been global in scope. Through BBC WorldWide, the broadcaster made its iPlayer available in multiple regions, although the content it offers can vary from country to country.
Would you be interested in a service that puts all of the BBC's shows online for download? And does it make any difference to you whether that service is the BBC's or Apple's? Have your say in the comments.
Images courtesy of Flickr, ell brown
This story originally published on Mashable here.