back to article BBC surrenders 'linear' exclusivity to compete with binge-watch Netflix

The BBC is abandoning linear exclusivity as it goes for broke to make the iPlayer a global Netflix rival. The corporation says it will throw entire series on to the on-demand streaming service before the first episode in a series is even broadcast on terrestrial TV. Director-General Tony Hall will call for the BBC to "reinvent …

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  1. Ol'Peculier

    Interesting to see exactly what they put on. I can't see Doctor Who being dumped on it in one go, but series such as The Night Manager will be. That suits me, I like watching a couple of episodes a night of a series with a single storyline, as I suspect do many.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      The irony there is that Dr Who is on Netflix, and currently I'm binge watching the original BBC series 'Jonathan Creek' , after this year's Xmas special reminded me about it.

      Will the Beeb withdraw this content from Netflix, and make it all available on the iPlayer? Having the entire Beeb back catalogue available would be pretty good (I'd love to have a walk down memory lane and catch an 80s episodes of 'Tomorrow's World : -) ) . All4 has a pretty good back catalogue, shame the unified streaming service got quashed, paying into one pot, and having that revenue divided amongst the content providers would be a great service.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "shame the unified streaming service got quashed, paying into one pot, and having that revenue divided amongst the content providers would be a great service."

        Yes, it was rather odd. It was effectively doing for streaming what the broadcast network does for terrestrial broadcasters. Of course it might have impinged on those broadcasters who don't use the terrestrial broadcast network such as Sky and VM. But surely competition is good? All the big near monopoly companies say so.

        1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

          I used to work for ntl: (before they adopted the Virgin Media brand name) and was surprised they never created or commissioned their own content. I guess I thought them offering a Netflix like service was a no-brainer. Although they did nearly go bust when I worked for them so I guess they had bigger things to worry about. I guess the competition thing is a bit muddy, VM distribute BT Sport, Sky and terrestrial content, Sky offer their own content, and terrestrial, I guess if the content creator gets paid for the stream, VM have the most to lose as they don't create content, but they are an ISP, so could might sell more broadband connections on the back of the service.

          1. Ol'Peculier

            VM are owned by Liberty Media, who are just about to finish the purchase of Formula 1. Be interesting to see where that goes...

  2. Dwarf Silver badge

    End of the TV Licence

    If they are publishing to the world, then the only possible outcome is to dump the UK only TV Licence.

    1. DailyLlama

      Re: End of the TV Licence

      Not really, they'll just charge people outside the UK to use the iPlayer.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

        Re: End of the TV Licence

        Personally I'd just like to be able to access the content that my license fee helps to support when I'm travelling on business in Europe (and beyond) without having to VPN back to my home network or remember to download it in advance and fill up my devices already scarce and stuffed storage.

        1. Ol'Peculier

          Re: End of the TV Licence

          Equally, I'd like to see the UK version of the BBC website when travelling.

          1. theModge

            Re: End of the TV Licence

            Equally, I'd like to see the UK version of the BBC website when travelling.

            Likewise, I very much miss it when abroad.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: End of the TV Licence

              It is available on IPTV streaming

              1. Mage Silver badge

                Re: End of the TV Licence

                I'd bet that Netflix realises linear broadcast is complementary and MUCH cheaper to deliver to 10M viewers at the same time in the same country. They will open cable & satellite Pay TV channels as well as VOD.

                Also doesn't the Beeb need to actually stop outsourcing, build quality in house production teams & writers to have good content? Like they used to have when they were x10 better than USA garbage. Funny Netflix, Sky, Amazon etc are growing their own production teams and facilities?

                Also c4 did great films, programs and commisioned animation and then decided Reality TV was a thing (which was simply voyeurism and cheap production and exploitation), shuttered all their production.

                UK TV is now piss poor compared to 1970s.

                What exactly other than ancient shows are they going to put on iPlayer?

                1. Credas Silver badge

                  Re: End of the TV Licence

                  Also doesn't the Beeb need to actually stop outsourcing, build quality in house production teams & writers to have good content? Like they used to have when they were x10 better than USA garbage. Funny Netflix, Sky, Amazon etc are growing their own production teams and facilities?

                  Well, yes, but they were forced by the government to do precisely what they have done, because the poor little independent production companies were effectively shut out of bidding for BBC work. Very few people seem to notice how many of the BBC's major programmes now end with a "Produced by xxxx" tag, right up until there's a GBBO/C4 moment affecting their favourite programme.

                2. Jon Jones 73

                  Re: End of the TV Licence

                  "Also doesn't the Beeb need to actually stop outsourcing, build quality in house production teams & writers to have good content?"

                  I'm sure they would like to but the government put a stop to that.

            2. MOV r0,r0

              Re: End of the TV Licence

              Just take a few old copies of The Guardian with you

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: End of the TV Licence

            I'd just like less videos on the BBC news site and more actual bloody articles.

            Its become unreadable.

            1. boltar Silver badge

              Re: End of the TV Licence

              "I'd just like less videos on the BBC news site and more actual bloody articles."

              A bit more consistency in which story gets a "Your say" comments section would be good too. At the moment it seems to be done at the whim of whoevers in charge on a given day. Sometimes proper stories get a comments section, sometimes its only trivia. Today its Obamas speech (not UK news but yeah, ok) and Robbie WIlliams ticket sales?? WTF?? This is the BBC News site, not CBBC! Meanwhile UK trade deficit and NHS crisis stories - nope, Auntie won't let you comment on those topics.

              1. LionelB

                Re: End of the TV Licence

                "A bit more consistency in which story gets a "Your say" comments section would be good too."

                I'll second that... then again, the comments section seems to be swamped by illiterate alt-right trolls these days, to the extent that it's completely pointless.

                1. Glenturret Single Malt

                  Re: End of the TV Licence

                  At least you can now arrange the comments from oldest first.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: End of the TV Licence

                "Robbie WIlliams ticket sales?? WTF?? This is the BBC News site, not CBBC!"

                Don't want to make you feel old, but most kids watching CBBC would say "Who's Robbie Williams?", after all Take Thats first big hit was close on 25 years ago.

              3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: End of the TV Licence

                "Meanwhile UK trade deficit and NHS crisis stories - nope, Auntie won't let you comment on those topics."

                ISTM that they only ever open comments on innocuous and non-contentious stories because they can't afford the moderators to keep things "nice". Every now and then it turns into a Daily Fail rant-fest and large numbers of posts get withdrawn and accounts blocked.

                1. Mage Silver badge

                  Re: Comments

                  Also they have massive web site, comments etc and yet promote Twitter and Facebook. Idiots.

            2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

              Re: End of the TV Licence

              I'd just like less videos on the BBC news site and more actual bloody articles.

              I haven't visited the BBC news site for a couple of years but do find their News App for hones suits me. That seems to have a good mix of articles which appear to get cached when using WiFi at home and are therefore available when I am out without a data connection.

              I don't mind paying the licence fee which is only 40p a day. Others may be half the price of that but don't, for me, deliver half as much. I am however aggrieved at their withdrawing their free Radio Times XMLTV listings service and having to resort to web page scraping.

              1. Matt Ryan

                Re: End of the TV Licence

                It's only 40p/day for you because others are extorted for the licence fee. Would you feel so happy about paying £4/day if only 1 in 10 took out a subscription?

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: End of the TV Licence

                  "It's only 40p/day for you because others are extorted for the licence fee. Would you feel so happy about paying £4/day if only 1 in 10 took out a subscription?"

                  I'm pretty ambivalent about the BBC licence fee but I wonder how many people would suddenly realise that they do use the BBC more than they thought if the entire BBC went voluntary subscription only. All those people who "never" watch BBC suddenly realise they do use the website, they do listen to BBC radio, they do use iPlayer etc. and they do watch BBC news.

                  Maybe it turns out many of these people really do deliberately avoid the BBC, but I bet most don't.

                  Just for balance, I'm not happy with the BBC either. Many comments above re the news website I agree with, far too much shitty "daytime" TV, far too many reality shows, far too many daily soaps etc.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: End of the TV Licence

                I haven't visited the BBC news site for a couple of years but do find their News App for hones suits me. That seems to have a good mix of articles which appear to get cached when using WiFi at home and are therefore available when I am out without a data connection.

                I find their app to be a classic case of style over substance*. It's very graphics-heavy, very trendy and "swipey", and as a result even after you've dug into the menu to enable "compact layout", you can only fit six headlines on the screen at one time. I'm sure the highly paid designers who came up with it are very pleased with themselves, and think my license fee money was well spent on their bloated fees, but frankly a simple list of headlines would be far superior if your goal is actually to facilitate access to the information.

                *To be fair, ranting aside, the functionality is actually pretty good, design issues aside.

            3. Simon Harris Silver badge

              Re: End of the TV Licence

              I'd just like less videos on the BBC news site and more actual bloody articles.

              I don't mind the videos being there, but when the only way you can see the story is by watching the video it's a pain - they could at least provide a transcript for bandwidth restricted situations or in places where you need silence. The two line summary is not usually sufficent.

            4. ZillaOfManilla

              Re: End of the TV Licence

              Do you mean less videos that are just text scrolling up on screen over a silent or not dubbed video? They have started to become more apparent on the local news pages. Very cheap looking and makes me go to the local rags for the news rather than BBC.

            5. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: End of the TV Licence

              "I'd just like less videos on the BBC news site and more actual bloody articles."

              At least with the license fee you don't get the constant "while you're here why not give us some money" begging sections that you get constantly on the Guardian website ... personally I think they would be more accurate saying "while you're here why are you still paying for a paper copy at the weekend to see this article again"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: End of the TV Licence

        >Not really, they'll just charge people outside the UK to use the iPlayer.

        How? Many, many millions from outside the UK already watch for a few dollars a month [the BBC decline FOI on commercial grounds but have reliable figures] - several dozen smart dns/vpn re-streaming services actively market abroad using iPlayer support as number one feature. Unless the subscription is a lot less than the license fee and more in line with smart dns etc it's a doomed idea.

    2. theModge

      Re: End of the TV Licence

      I personally don't foresee* either the BBC publishing to the world or the end of the TV license fee. Why?

      Because state funded TV channels look, as they so often are, corrupt. Maintaining the hypothecated tax just for the BBC prevents the government threatening them quite so directly, much as they still manage to do so every time the license fee is up for negotiation. I'm not sure the government would choose to look so openly totalitarian when it can still exert a fair bit of control and seem independent. As to publishing to the world: BBC world has been selling UK content abroad for years and I'm sure they'll continue to do so.

      *I told all my friends Brexit wouldn't happen and Trump wouldn't get in, so take this with a pinch of salt.

      1. pxd

        Re: End of the TV Licence

        theModge: as an American that has now lived in the UK for +30 years, I have to object to your description of the BBC as corrupt. On the contrary, I suggest that the BBC is by a considerable margin the news distribution organ the most free of commercial or political bias and/or influence in the world. If you have significant experience of a challenger for that title, I'd like to hear more about it. Certainly (almost) no media output in the US is remotely free of bias, or free of the commercial influence of the advertisers that fund it. (The only possible exception is NPR (www.npr.org).) I deeply admire the BBC technique for remaining unbiased (make sure to irritate the left and the right in equal measure), and I cannot see any way other than the licence fund to eliminate the commercial influence that dominates other media outlets. pxd

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: End of the TV Licence

          "as an American that has now lived in the UK for +30 years, I have to object to your description of the BBC as corrupt."

          Thank you for the "outsider" perspective. (only another 20 years and you might be accepted LOL)

          Sometimes people here forget what we have because they forget to compare with what else is available in other countries. Having watched a few streaming channels fro around the world, I'm glad we still have a non-commercial BBC.

          They have their problems, and they are doing some stuff in chasing ratings that I'd really rather they didn't, but anything has to be better than the worst of US commercial channels where a one hour show has, at most 35 minutes of content. Intro - adverts - titles - adverts - show - adverts - show - adverts - conclusion - adverts - title sequence. If that's not horrifying enough, they even run banner ads if the the show itself in some cases, nearly 1/4 screen in height after the many ad breaks.

    3. g e

      Re: End of the TV Licence

      That thing which is 2x the cost of a Netflix/Amazon subscription? Oh yeah. Please dump that crap.

      1. TheDillinquent
        Pint

        Re: End of the TV Licence

        Actually 40p a day is good value as it stops UK TV degenerating into the into the unwatchable unholy shitmess that passes for FTV TV in most of the rest of the world. And there are no ads.

        No wonder The Evil Aussie does everything he can to undermine the Beeb.

        Auntie may not be perfect but she's OUR Auntie.

  3. TheProf
    Angel

    Great!

    I'd like to see all the episodes of The Ten O'Clock News put on-line a week before they're broadcast. I bet Netflix can't do that.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Great!

      Sod that, I want next week's lottery numbers...

      1. WonkoTheSane

        Re: Great!

        Maybe requests like that are why the lottery draws are now not on TV, but livestreamed on the interweb instead?

        1. boltar Silver badge

          Re: Great!

          "Maybe requests like that are why the lottery draws are now not on TV, but livestreamed on the interweb instead?"

          Or maybe once the novelty wore off people realised watching a load of rubber balls being spat out of a drum doesn't make for very interesting viewing and figures plumetted.

          1. Mike Shepherd
            Happy

            Re: Great!

            "...people realised watching a load of rubber balls being spat out of a drum doesn't make for very interesting viewing..."

            I hope you realise that Mystic Meg is going to cry herself to sleep tonight.

          2. Simon Harris Silver badge

            Re: Great!

            "people realised watching a load of rubber balls being spat out of a drum doesn't make for very interesting viewing"

            I am sure the BBC could find some Thai 'performance artists' who could provide a more interesting way of releasing the lottery balls.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great!

        stealing a joke from Mock the Week's version of Points of View - "Dear Sky Sports minus one, thank you very much for your grand national coverage, i won a load of cash"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Great!

      I am sure MI5 can oblige

    3. PeteA

      Re: Great!

      Well, they already broadcast the day's new in the morning now: "Mrs. Bah Humbug will make a speech today in which she will ...". So it shouldn't be that hard then.

  4. m0rt Silver badge

    Why does the BBC *NEED* to compete against Netflix and Amazon? There is no basis for it. They are not *cough* a commercial company, therefore they shouldn't be competing. They should stick to the BBCs original remit. Cut out a lot of dross, and keep everything smaller but with the greatest quality. Same goes for the online churnalism that passes for the News website.

    I used to admire the BBC. It was something that I was glad existed. I respected it. This started to change around 2005/6 for me.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      And if they want to compete it should be as a commercial company not by digging into the pockets of the public.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thanks for your input Rupert.

    3. Pinkerton
      Unhappy

      Why does the BBC *NEED* to compete against Netflix and Amazon?

      The BBC needs to compete because whilst it is *currently* not a commercial company and *currently* can survive on the licence fee, these things are in no way certainties. Successive governments have frozen the licence fee and threatened to neuter the Beeb unless they play the game.

      There is a growing public opinion (some of it expressed here) that the BBC should be cut free and left to fend for itself without the licence fee/tax. When that day comes, they BBC *will* need to compete against Netflix and Amazon.

      All they're doing is preparing for the inevitable. Sounds like a very good plan to me.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Why does the BBC *NEED* to compete against Netflix and Amazon?

        "The BBC needs to compete because whilst it is *currently* not a commercial company and *currently* can survive on the licence fee, these things are in no way certainties. Successive governments have frozen the licence fee and threatened to neuter the Beeb unless they play the game."

        That's not a "need". That's a "want".

        BBC is not ACTUALLY needed at all. Nice to have, yes. Needed? No.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why does the BBC *NEED* to compete against Netflix and Amazon?

        "There is a growing public opinion (some of it expressed here) that the BBC should be cut free and left to fend for itself without the licence fee/tax."

        Growing in loudness only, the numbers are still much the same. The internet applies a magnifying equaliser so that the twitter and suchlikebook make things look more important than they really are.

        I dislike a lot of the crap the BBC comes out with but we need it as protection from ourselves because we will all just go for the cheapest nastiest bundle of commercial shite available after its demise and Idiocracy will be truly under way.

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