BBC to make iPlayer worldwide “within a year”

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Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC, has revealed that the broadcaster is currently at work in bringing its popular BBC iPlayer to licence payers while they are abroad and also creating a commercial version for worldwide audiences via BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster’s commercial division.

Talking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival organised by MediaGuardian, Thompson has said that the broadcaster will release the commercial version of BBC iPlayer “within a year”.

“Within a year we aim to launch an international commercial version of the iPlayer. Subject to trust approval, we also want to find a way of letting UK licence fee payers and servicemen and women use a version of the UK public service iPlayer wherever they are in the world,” Thompson told the audience.

Previously, the only way to access BBC content on iPlayer that was geoblocked – usually content that was broadcast on television – was to use a proxy. Opening a commercial version will most likely be tied with BBC Worldwide’s commercial channels, which include BBC America in the USA and UKTV, Cbeebies and BBC Knowledge in Australia and New Zealand.

BBC content is also available on demand in Australia via Nine’s FixPlay service and, when broadcast, by the ABC via its similar iView website.

BBC iPlayer, launched in the UK in 2007, has been a success in the UK, allowing users to catch up and download (under time constraints) with programming that has aired on the BBC’s ten domestic channels and 59 radio stations – including the World Service.