We hear a lot of talk from the traditional terrestrial channels about trying to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, because nobody wants to watch things at a pre-determined time they have to look up in the Radio Times. The BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 have even talked about joining forces for a super streaming service to better compete, though that's not what this story is about.
Now the BBC wants to make some changes to iPlayer, and being the publicly-funded broadcaster that it is it's asking the public what they think. Those of you who resent the TV Licence may be hoping that the BBC will offer a monthly iPlayer subscription, but this is not that. This consultation is about keeping content on iPlayer for 12 months, rather than the usual 30 days. It also wants more archive content, and complete boxsets of "new and returning series", giving you more chances to binge-watch everything to your hearts content.
Who can say no to that? Especially if it's all wrapped up in the same licence fee as before. Still, Ofcom has decided it's "a material change" to the BBC's public services, and therefore has to undertake a Public Interest Test to work out its value and how it might affect the competition. The competition thing might be the clincher, because only a fool would decline the chance to watch stuff on iPlayer beyond the current 30 day limit.
Sadly the consultation isn't an online form for you to fill in, and instead you'll have to download the consultation document and answer some questions by sending your answers to the BBC yourself. You can do that by emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or posting them to BBC Corporate Affairs, Room 5045, BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA. Just in case you fancy spending money on an envelope and stamp.
The document has lots of information about why the BBC would like to do this, which is 18 pages long and might be worth reading, but we've pasted the important bit below:
Question 1: What do you think about the potential public value of our proposals for enhanced availability of BBC content, including the extent to which our proposals contribute to the BBC’s mission to serve all audiences through the provision of high quality and distinctive output and services which informs, educates and entertains?
Question 2: What do you think about the benefit to consumers who will use the service, as well as wider potential social and cultural impacts?
Question 3: What impact (positive or negative) do you think our proposals on enhanced availability might have on fair and effective competition?
Question 4: Are there any steps you think we could take to minimise any potential negative effects on fair and effective competition or to promote potential positive impacts?
The consultation runs from today until 15th February. [Radio Times]