Though companies like Netflix and ABC already have devoted video streaming apps for the iPad it’s still an arena that many media organizations are slow to embrace. It seems that the BBC is ready to jump in though, as they have announced plans to release their iPlayer TV service in the US very soon, but there are a couple catches. First off, it’s an iPad exclusive; second, it’s arriving as a subscription service.
The BBC iPlayer basically functions very similarly to what the major American television networks are doing in the online space. Users can launch the iPlayer and then watch or listen to any of the BBC’s television or radio programming from the past seven days on-demand. So, if you happened to miss the latest episode of Doctor Who, Top Gear, or want to get the latest headlines from BBC World News, iPlayer will be your best bet. The service has been available in the UK for three years now and is easily the most popular on-demand service across the pond.
Unfortunately, unlike American services such as Netflix or Hulu shows don’t stay on the iPlayer after the seven day window has passed. So if you’re looking to catch up on entire seasons of shows then iPlayer really won’t help all that much. However, huge BBC fans who want to have all the recent content available at their fingertips will likely love this app. The BBC hasn’t announced a pricing structure for the service yet, so we’ll have to wait and see how much the company plans to charge. Nor do we have any information yet on any potential service differences for the US version. There’s always the possibility that they will black out shows that are shown on BBC America for example.
The question now becomes, can the BBC break into the American market with this app? It’s definitely going to be tough considering how many other options are available to US consumers, but there’s definitely some content exclusive to the BBC that a number of folks would want to access. An interesting prospect indeed, and one which we’ll definitely be keeping our eye on.