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BBC Planning American Subscription Service

‘Torchwood’ and ‘Doctor Who’ will be among the online offerings


In the United Kingdom, if you miss a piece of BBC programming, then you don’t have to worry. You can catch it on iPlayer at any time within the next seven days.

To date, the iPlayer remains the United Kingdom’s most popular on-demand service for programming. And now the BBC has revealed plans to launch a global version of the iPlayer service, designed specifically for Apple’s iPad in the United States, which is dominating the tablet device market.

Among the shows being carried by the offering are “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood,” both of which have proven to be international hits and favorites on the existing iPlayer lineup.

The plan will be to charge a subscription fee to access the content, however with some free sections offering some content. Those areas will use advertising to cover the free service while simultaneously generating useful user data to better the service.

Already iPlayer is the top on-demand service in the United Kingdom, beating out offerings from all other channels (including Channel 4’s video on demand, which is available through YouTube).

The move is expected to dramatically change the landscape on how American viewers purchase BBC-produced shows as this can currently only be done through Apple’s iTunes. In general, the focus on the iPad as the delivery device for the service is expected to allow BBC to further brand itself in the United States as an entertainment house, while creating a new platform to launch new ventures.

There is even some chatter that the rollout and continued development of the service could conceivably establish BBC as a significant online operator of digital entertainment.

Other shows that are not produced by the BBC also are expected to become available as the service grows since BBC America — part of the BBC Worldwide group — does carry shows that are not produced by BBC (including a few that are direct rivals to BBC programming).

BBC Worldwide is said to be exploring the legalities of digital rights to those television shows in the hopes that some can be made available through the international iPlayer service.

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