After a year of scandals tarnishing the name of the great British institution, new Director General Lord Tony Hall has outlined the roadmap for how the BBC moves forward into the new year with a dramatic overhaul of its digital offerings.
In early 2014 the BBC will be unveiling a new store, offering a commercial service for Doctor Who fans to download and keep their favourite episodes. Cost and price model have not been announced, however, Lord Hall stated that “We’re moving from being catch-up TV, to online TV.”
It is worth noting that the BBC store will be separate from the iPlayer service which will remain free. The iPlayer service will also see an overhaul now offering catchup for up to 30 days whilst also being a platform for airing some programmes ahead of their broadcast on television. Hall notes that this will “reinvent iPlayer” and positions the service as their primary digital offering allowing many of the features smart TV’s and other devices have had for a while.
The changes to the BBC’s digital offerings are not limited to video content however, and perhaps the most interesting announcement from Lord Hall surrounds the unveiling of a new service called BBC Playlister. This will integrate the BBC’s extensive music services with that of popular streaming providers such as Spotify, YouTube and Deezer. Radio listeners and programme watchers will be able to tag music they hear on the BBC and export playlists to the aforementioned services for playback on the go. Playlister will launch “in the coming days”.
Coding a new path
Also of note is a new initiative to “bring coding into every home, business and school in the UK”. The Digital Creativity and Coding project aims to inspire the next generation of coders and programmers. Launching in 2015, it will accompany greater government efforts to improve IT literacy and vital computer skills that many experts fear are being neglected.
Finally, plans for a plus one channel of BBC1 were unveiled, giving people running an hour behind a chance to catch the programmes they missed. However, its worth must surely be questioned given the push behind iPlayer and the opportunity to watch catch up online.
The BBC’s digital revamp will be an important revenue stream for a corporation which has already had its income in the form of the license fee frozen until 2017. However, given the intense competition in the online world from the likes of Sky, Amazon and Tesco it will certainly face an uphill struggle to maintain its relevance.