Ages ago, when mankind first learned of fire and kept small dinosaurs as pets, I used to work in a very large bookstore. One of those big ones that sold DVDs and wooden toys on top of books and stuff. Stick with me, the bit about the DVDs is important. So, having worked in a store that sells DVDs I've come to learn something about our society: American people go absolutely nuts for British television.
Seriously, so many people would spend upwards of $80 or more on a single season of some show about a woman who marries people and lives in wine country or something. And maybe solves murders. Average citizens solve a lot of murders over there, don't they?
Perhaps it's because they've finally realized that their shows have a massive global appeal, or maybe it's because they finally got the funds together, but BBC Worldwide has created (and is unleashing) their BBC iPlayer: an iPad app that allows a fairly extensive (1500 hours worth on day one) amount of their catalog to be streamed digitally. The managing director of BBC.com (Luke Bradley-Jones) has told guardian.co.uk that the service will feature newer episodes but also grant users access to "... the best from the catalogue stretching back 50 to 60 years."
Some content is available for free (add-supported, of course), but subscriptions are available for €6.99 (roughly $10) a month and €49.99 (about $72) a year. Sure subscription fees are always daunting, but considering the fact that most BBC enthusiasts plunk down more than triple that in a year or less, I think this seems like a great deal. Especially when considering the perks that the US version will include: 3G and Wi-Fi streaming, as well as (this is the big one) downloading videos directly to the iPad for offline viewing. I mean seriously, who wouldn't be willing to pay a little bit each year to be able to load up some Doctor Who, Primeval, Top Gear and more, whenever they'd like? Imagine how awesome those commutes would be.
The BBC iPlayer is due out "Thursday" in 11 Western European countries, but US, Canadian and Australian residents will have to wait until later this year. Bummer.