BBC should stop throwing its immensely popular iPlayer catch up service, which allows users to view the BBC shows for up to seven days they were originally broadcasted, in gratis, says the Corporation’s former chief of digital technology.
Ashley Highfield, who played a significant role in launching the iPlayer service, asserted that while the service has virtually initiated a unique kind of revolution in the online telly services, it is now time for the Corporation to develop a revenue stream surrounding its commendable popularity.
Addressing the government’s digital creative industry symposium Cabinet Forum, Highfield stated that now when the iPlayer had already been recognised as the market leader in online-TV offerings, it was the right time to reassess the free content offer.
Highfield, who is now working as the managing director of online content at Microsoft UK, said in a statement: “I think the iPlayer was a catalyst to get a lot more content [made available on-demand] in the UK. All boats rise on that, commercial or not.”
However, he further called upon to review some of its previously established principles, such as offering a week-long catch up window for its television shows.
While the suggestion from Highfield seems to be rational at the first glimpse, the moot point here is whether the online-TV market in the UK has matured up to the level that it would make users to pay for viewing the content online, particularly when other such services are emerging rapidly to pose a serious competition for the iPlayer.
No one would pay for the iPlayer when you have other catch up services. There's also the problem of piracy with BBC content being made available on most P2P and file sharing networks worldwide (even though iPlayer content is only UK-based for now). Then there's the fact that we're already paying through the nose for BBC content through the TV License.