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BBC Plans to Launch Digital Video Download Platform

The BBC plans to launch a rival to Apple’s iTunes in the future, offering digital downloads of its programming.

Rather than instant streaming service offered by iPlayer, the new service will give customers the chance to purchase and download TV shows by the episode or series, to a multitude of different platforms.

We’ve heard whispers of such a service coming from the Beeb recently, and now its General Director, Mark Thompson, has confirmed it’s happening. We got our first clues about the BBC’s plans today, when Thompson spoke at a Royal Television Society event. He explained the company’s vision for digital downloads:

For decades the British public has understood the distinction between watching Dad’s Army on BBC1 and then going out to buy a permanent copy of it. Barcelona is the digital equivalent of doing the second.

This service is already being worked on at the BBC, under the codename of Project Barcelona, although we’re still none the wiser about a launch date, or even a vague timeframe.

The BBC acknowledges that many people still take to the high street to purchase their favourite TV series in box set form, although more are now turning to digital downloads, with Apple’s iTunes offering both individual episode and series downloads for a cut-price.

Project Barcelona is expected to give iTunes a run for its money, offering shows from the BBC at a lower price of £1.89 per episode. iTunes currently offers some BBC programming, such as Top Gear, for £2.49. The BBC also plans to make an episode available to download as soon as it has aired, which is great for those who want to gradually build up a digital box set, rather than waiting weeks or months after the series ends for a physical box set to go on sale.

A rival to iTunes is great for the consumer, and hopefully we’ll see some competitive pricing in the future from both. We’ll keep you in tune with the BBC’s latest plans for Project Barcelona as we hear it.

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