back to article Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

BBC please take note: Sky’s decision to play Netflix at its own game seems to be paying off. Sky decided to “unbundle” itself two years ago, offering access to its content to anyone with an internet connection and a credit card via NOW TV, an OTT (over-the-top) offering. It previously bundled content with access and …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    NowTV is good

    I'd quite possibly subscribe to a BBC Store - there is a huge amount of decent material there.

    I *do* subscribe to some OTT media provision, but have no live TV capability - I just don't value it enough

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NowTV is good

      I like it too, but it's not HD which is a bit rubbish.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: NowTV is good

        720p is good enough for most things - I have various things on bluray - which *do* look better, but if the content is good then 720p is just fine.

        Most stuff is exDVD anyway, so it never was 1080p...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NowTV is good

      NowTV is damned handy (barring Silverlight), but they did just cancel my service because they noticed I'd used the initial of my forename signing up, instead of the whole of it.

      They made it quite clear I can have my account back if I give them my full name.. ooooookaaaay... not creepy at all..

      1. viscount

        Re: NowTV is good

        Does cancel your service mean they stopped taking your money? That's a surprise for Sky.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: NowTV is good

          Yeah. My guess is their legal dept wants it to improve sueball accuracy in case your personally watermarked stream ends up on the net somewhere.

          But to dedicate resources to post-reviewing accounts, then revoking service if they feel they don't have a firm enough grip on both your balls? Woah..

    3. Leo-pinkus-pantherus

      Re: NowTV is good

      The chaps will have their new show on Amazon, so this conversation is irrelevant.

  2. Ol'Peculier
    Thumb Up

    Blakes 7

    Except that B7 is on YouTube...

    But the idea should be welcomed, and preferably - when the rights allow it - be available worldwide.

    1. stucs201

      Re: Blakes 7

      I've got a full set of physical (and still digital) DVDs on the shelf.

      I do have one analogue Blakes 7 disk though : the theme tune on a 7" vinyl record.

  3. Iain Cognito
    Happy

    Blake's 7

    My mum used to work for the BBC. The Blake's 7 lettering was her original artwork.

    1. Joe Bryant

      Re: Blake's 7

      So it's her fault there's no apostrophe?

  4. Irongut

    You can already watch the entirety of Blake's 7 and the rather good three part documentary about the series on YouTube for free. It isn't even hard to find.

    1. Ol'Peculier
      Go

      A friend of mine produced and directed the documentaries, they are well worth watching,

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
    WTF?

    "Or are you actually able to save yourselves?”

    Next someone will say the Tories are dismantling the BBC out of tough love.

  6. Neill Mitchell

    Go for it Beeb!

    It's mindboggling why they haven't done this already. The BBC's back catalog alone would make much more compelling viewing than 99% of the shite on NOW TV, Netflix etc. It's the only service I'd even consider paying a monthly fee for.

    The "Digital DVD" bit worries me. This doesn't strike me as silly old Auntie Beeb employing an anachronistic term. I think they may simply try exactly that - charging DVD prices for individual items rather than a Netflix type library subscription. In which case it will die on its arse.

    1. Jediben
      Joke

      Re: Go for it Beeb!

      It's not often you get redundant double Ds, but as this example shows the Beeb isn't afraid to make a tit of itself.

      Digital Digital Versatile Disc - streamed over the net. Doubly digital and not on a disc at all!

    2. Synonymous Howard

      Re: Go for it Beeb!

      I have 2 nowtv boxes (when they were £8 delivered), my dad has one, my mates have one ... I don't believe any of us have a sky subscription though ... I've tried nowtv, Netflix and Amazon and apart from watching around half-dozen newish movies on them I've never been moved above 'meh' to subscribe. Even had some free blinkbox money to try that out.

      4oD, iPlayer, ITVPlayer, BBCnews even Five are useable on the nowtv (Riki) box but for me they mainly get used for streaming from my Plex server or catching up on iPlayer.

      But a beeb subscription service, if pitched as a low monthly fee for full archive access might pique my interest.

  7. dotdavid

    NowTV

    Funnily enough I tend to use my NowTV boxes for iPlayer rather than the NowTV service, which doesn't seem a bad deal if I was interested in what is shown on it.

    Well, iPlayer and Plex and YouTube. I don't think it will be long before Sky disables the latter (the former is sideloaded) but until then the NowTV box is a bargain way to make a TV "smart" for just a tenner.

    Perhaps the BBC should make these shows available over iPlayer instead, they have it on enough platforms to immediately make an impact (although Sky et al probably wouldn't be happy).

  8. Stumpy Pepys

    I've wondered for years why the BBC never did this; the value in their archives must be very large.

    By the way, I did binge-watch Blake's 7 when I was sick earlier this year.

  9. FireBurn

    I guess the main issue is we've already paid for and own all the content on the BBC by being a licence holder - this is different from Sky. The BBC should be providing the whole of it's back catalog on the iPlayer. If it wants to change a monthly fee for this like Netflix it should be instead of the licence fee (most people pay this monthly anyway)

    I feel I get a lot more for my money from my 4K £8.99 Netflix subscription than my £12.12 TV licence fee

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

      "I feel I get a lot more for my money from my 4K £8.99 Netflix subscription than my £12.12 TV licence fee”

      If you enjoy all that US content then that works for you. Personally I could happily live without Sky, Netflix, Amazon Prime. Most peeps who want rid of the BBC usually are the types that watch all that American shite anyway so that's your agenda.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

        Ironically here in Canada we get all the old UK stuff on Netflix, the other half is addicted to Midsommer/Rosemary&Thyme,Ms Marple,Agatha Christie - none of which show up on UK netflix.

        ... more worryingly she might be planning on murdering me and is researching the best way to fool detectives

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

          I've just discovered Canadian Netflix from here in Blighty. It's very good, might even be better than the US one.

          And iplayer is fine. If the BBC were to publish it's archives there it would be better still.

        2. Richard Crossley
          Headmaster

          Re: Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

          It's been a while, but I thought Midsommer Murders and Miss Marple were on ITV.

  10. FireBurn

    I guess the main issue is we've already paid for and own all the content on the BBC by being a licence holder - this is different from Sky. The BBC should be providing the whole of it's back catalog on the iPlayer. If it wan't to change a monthly fee for this like Netflix it should be instead of the licence fee (most people pay this monthly anyway)

    I feel I get a lot more for my money from my 4K £8.99 Netflix subscription than my £12.12 TV licence fee

    1. TheProf

      Mine!

      Where did you get the idea that you 'own' something because you bought a limited 1 year licence?

      You don't 'own' the road because you paid road tax. You don't 'own' a movie because you gave Warners £10 to see it. You don't 'own' the Inland Revenue because you pay income tax. And you sure as hell better return the library book you borrowed even though it was purchased with your council tax.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mine!

        > Where did you get the idea that you 'own' something because you bought a limited 1 year licence?

        I think he means that BBC produced programmes were paid for by the public and the BBC being a public institution, the works are community owned, so we in effect all own them.

        It's a bit like water (although the analogy is not great). Nobody really owns water, but it is reasonable to charge for its treatment and delivery.

        1. dms05

          Re: Mine!

          Of course it isn't a 1 year limited license. You take out a life time license and pay annually (or maybe monthly) but you don't have any alternative. If you don't pay you will be prosecuted by the BBC who will clog up the court system to make sure they get their money. Where on a BBC License is the option of 'cancel my subscription'. You are liable to pay for life. You and the BBC know that once you take out your first license. So it's a life time license paid in instalments, but it is lifetime and you should have the right to watch any programmes from that period where the BBC has rights. Otherwise you'd be paying twice.

          1. daro2096

            Re: Mine!

            You only need a license if you watch live broadcast television. You don't need a license for watching catch up and DVDs.

        2. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: Mine!

          Not everything was made for the BBC on the basis of perpetual ownership.

          With the older stuff made in a time before VHS let alone DVD the actor, writer contracts etc were based on one or two showings. While a sum would be paid upfront for this, if there were further showings, then repeat fees were due to those involved.

          Hence if material from the archive is to be shown then there may be (admittedly small) cheques to be made out to the actors (or in the case of Daleks, Terry Nation's estate).

      2. BongoJoe Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Mine!

        You don't 'own' the road because you paid road tax.

        When was the last time you paid road tax? It was back in the sixties around fifty years ago when it was abolished.

        The tax you pay now is just a fee enabling you drive that one particular vehicle that's in your particular name on the roads and nothing to do with the old Road Fund Tax.

        1. IsJustabloke Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: When was the last time you paid road tax?

          There's always a pedant around when you don't want one....

          sigh....

          *everyone* knows that its not officially called "road tax". Its just used as a short hand.

          so just get over it eh?

          1. BongoJoe Silver badge

            Re: When was the last time you paid road tax?

            Alas, most folk don't. How many people do you hear complaining of cyclists on the road and that they don't pay the road tax? Or how many times do you hear of overseas drivers coming to the UK and using 'our roads which we paid road tax for'?

            I would say that most people don't have a clue that there's no such thing as road tax these days.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BBC back catalogue

    There were some stinkers and some gems that are not on you tube or elsewhere, remembering some of the failed US imports that I cannot find now, I'd subscribe to see them again.

    Whatever happened to Search Control or Holmes and Yoyo?

  12. dms05

    I suspect one major problem for the Beeb is my initial response 'But I've already paid for all that via the BBC License Fee'. Why should I pay again? If I subscribe to NOW TV or NETFLIX they provide content I don't feel is already within my ownership rights. After all over the past 50 years (at today's prices) I've already paid the BBC £7,500 for their output so why should I be asked to pay again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

      "I've already paid the BBC £7,500 for their output so why should I be asked to pay again?“

      you haven't brought and paid for jack shit. your membership at the local Con club doesn't mean that you own the club. your just a patron on that club. also what about the ongoing royalty payments that they would most likely have to pay on a on-demand service.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

        > you haven't brought and paid for jack shit.

        We meet again, and the point still stands.

        If we, the country have paid for the production, then we collectively own it.

        If taxation pays for the building of a local town hall, then we all collectively own it. I can't just barge in there and demand sole use of it, but it is effectively public property for the benefit of us all.

        Since the IP twonks are keen to call copyright works "property", then perhaps it could take on some of the other attributes that we would normally associate with that which is really property.

        1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

          Re: Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

          This is a totally daft assertion. The local town hall/library/municipal park/etc are generally property paid for by you, but that doesn't mean you can hold a dinner party there whenever you like.

          To get slightly legalistic, you have a beneficial interest in the BBC content, but your ownership/interest is shared by many others, and the custodians actually have a duty to all the owners, not just you. That duty may actually result in charging a fee for access according to your schedule (and no fee if access is provided to all owners, i.e. the thing is broadcast), because those access fees should offset the need for the broadcast license fees. Since the presumption is that "everyone" pays the latter, the custodians are actually doing exactly the right thing: charge them that specifically want some of the back catalogue for the special access, and use the revenue to reduce (or not increase) the TV license fee for "everyone". Success! Joy!

          By the way, did you expect to get DVDs of BBC programmes at just the physical DVD production and distribution cost? No?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Let's all binge on Blake’s 7 and help save the BBC ... from itself

            > To get slightly legalistic, you have a beneficial interest in the BBC content, but your ownership/interest is shared by many others, and the custodians actually have a duty to all the owners, not just you.

            Erm, I believe that this is what I said. Community ownership is not the same as private ownership.

            Were you responding to my comment or something else?

  13. 8Ace

    Netflix yes, Now TV Noooo !

    Please don't use Now TV as an example of how to do content access. Quality on sport and movies is piss poor and deliberately so in order to protect the full subscription service. I'd put it on a par with VHS video rather than compare it with Netflix.

  14. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Sky though

    Sky and other Subscription services are often parasites and poor value for the consumer. They ought on Internet to be able to constantly increase the long tail catalogue.

    But in practice they behave like a video rental shop. Netflix removes stuff from catalogue.

    Actually buying the actual physical discs can be better value than a mindless auto-renewed subscription that still charges the same no matter how much or how little you watch.

    Almost 92% of Sky's Satellite viewing time is actually Free To Air content. That's not counting pay TV repeats of FTA content.

    Get a BIG PVR and ditch the rip off subscription, Buy the disc of anything you want to watch more than once.

    There is also a "digital divide" on internet based Video content that doesn't exist for disk or broadcast. Much of BBC Disk catalogue seems overpriced too. (RTE even worse.).

    The reality isn't as simple as the article suggested.

  15. G Fan

    Doable in seconds by just bringing BBC Worldwide's version of iPlayer to the UK... and to devices that don't have a half-eaten logo. €50pa for an enormous back-catalogue on demand (even StrictlyVocalEnders in Holby if you must) seems quite fair.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Doable in seconds sounds nice, but actually I don't care how long it takes as long as it doesn't involve Flash. I'm not dead yet and I'm willing to wait for a solution that isn't infectious.

  16. Timbo

    Like others here, I can't see why Auntie doesn't make all of it's library of programs available for a small "on demand" fee - which can be varied depending on where the viewer lives....after all, those in the UK originally paid for the programme making (at the time) via the licence fee...but those in other countries didn't so, no problem with a two-tier system.

    BBC Wordwide has no problem making money out of old programmes when sold on 5" bits of round plastic & aluminium....so, why not go the whole hog, cut out the wasteful resources "medium" and give people downloads direct to their new fangled flat-screens connected via the intra-webby.

    While they are at it, do the same with live broadcasts and bingo - everyone pays something when they watch the BBC and we can all forget about the licence fee...

    (And by the way, the DAB specification allows for subscriber access modules, but no-one has implemented this on a product yet - so BBC Radio will remain free for now. I seem to remember Bloomberg originally broadcast on DAB, and you needed a subscription to hear it. As no-one had the right "set" it didn't work out for them).

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "While they are at it, do the same with live broadcasts and bingo - everyone pays something when they watch the BBC and we can all forget about the licence fee..."

      The BBC and others have already looked at and dropped that idea. Freeview might have a spec to include a CAM but not all Freeview receivers have one (or it's not user accessible) so you'd be asking a fairly large chunk of the population to replace their TVs/Freeview boxes yet again.

  17. jason 7

    Greetings...

    ...Star Commander!

    Said by RADA/RSC trained actors without batting an eyelid. Marvellous.

  18. Tom Graham

    you

    miss the point of keeping the license fee.

    Sure, the BBC could be more successful and more popular and make more money for more good TV if it became properly commercial.

    But then it would not a proper commercial management.

    The thousands of useless Purnells all doing pointless management jobs, making fat salaries, awarding themselves 6-figure bonuses and payoffs - these would be swept out.

    Hence these people will fight tooth and nail to keep the status-quo.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: you

      Right... because commercial organizations don't have pointless management jobs, making fat salaries, and awarding themselves 6 figure bonuses...

      ... usually, because the salaries are obese, and the bonuses need 7 figures.

      (Have you heard of, say, "banks"?)

  19. Warm Braw Silver badge

    The unanswered question is not where the money comes from.

    It's "what is the BBC for"? And I think at the heart of this issue is that we don't really know any more.

    It was originally conceived because the great and the good thought that we needed to be saved from low music hall entertainment and any form of politics that might affect the status quo. It's been reinvented several times since then, and presently seems to be at cross purposes with itself, the industry and the government.

    It's no longer vertically-integrated, it's not quite the massive monolith that is sometimes made out, but it's still undoubtedly has a scale that some of its competitors envy and question. Other, private sector, organisations run the technical broadcast infrastructure. Other, private sector, organisations (including its rivals) make many of the programmes - this was ostensibly to create a plurality of UK media companies, but many of the latter have now become part of large international conglomerates themselves. Its most popular output is the output that is most frequently criticised for undermining commercial interests, but what would be the purpose of an unpopular broadcaster, however funded?

    There's no point in a BBC that simply takes money from the licence fee payers and gives it to commercial concerns to make programmes - if people what those programmes, they can pay directly. There's no point in a BBC that is simply a subscription service - you don't need an institution with a Royal Charter to replicate Netflix.

    We need to make up our minds what we want the BBC to do. Once we've done that, how it's paid for is a secondary problem.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In 1996 the BBC made a very good "Time watch" documentary called "Time Flies" - about the making of the 1963 "Lord of the Flies" film. It was only broadcast once.

    It was the perfect "extra" for the new DVD releases of the film. However the BBC insisted on a licence fee that made it uneconomic for the new DVD releases to use it.

    It would be useful if the BBC Store finally allows people to access it.

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      " if the BBC Store finally allows people to access it"

      More interesting to see how much people are prepared to pay to see it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "More interesting to see how much people are prepared to pay to see it."

        Indeed. The price presumably would depend on a one-off viewing versus owning a copy you can watch many times. Does the BBC Store operate like iTunes in that you can watch something whenever you want - having paid once to download it to a limited number of your devices?

        If you divide a BBC licence cost by the number of unique programmes' hours they broadcast in a year then that would be a baseline of possibly 50p a day - or 2p an hour. Possibly then they would have to multiply that for the additional resources used for the Store streaming.

        Other archive sites have some films that are pay to view - usually in the region of a few pounds each time I think.

        Is it a case of the BBC covering the costs in providing a public service? - or is it the making of a serious commercial profit out of archived material that otherwise has no apparent value?

  21. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Two best things about Blakes Seven:

    a) Hearing a friend describe season two as "Un-Blake's Not-Quite-Seven".

    2) Seeing "Clackavoid" defined as a page of dialogue from Blake's Seven in the first edition of Liff.

  22. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Overseas?

    "...the launch of a 'BBC Store' opening up the corporation’s archives for paid-for OTT viewing from this autumn."

    Open to anyone anywhere?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which one is free?

    I've always paid my TV license, if I got for the BBC sub do I still have to pay?

    If I keep up the license, is the BBC content free?

    It's one or the other; although I doubt that's what'll actually happen.

  24. The Mighty Spang

    if its got all of spike milligan's Q series

    then i'd pay for it.

    the whole archive should be opened up because its probably a good idea to digitise everything anyway and there is probably plenty of stuff that people remember fondly and would like to see again, as well as the random stuff that only comes up from time to time on other shows. interviews and the like.

    part of the fun part about watching stuff like old blankety blanks is trying to work out who the hell 2 or more people on the panel were. obviously were famous enough at the time to be on the show but there is just no recollection of them!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If its a success then there will be outrage that the BBC is competing unfairly against its commercial rivals.

  26. James Pickett

    It's surely a nettle that the Beeb will never grasp while it's got such a vast income from the licence, whose payers won't exactly welcome top-up fees.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Think of it like the NHS vs BUPA (etc): if you want to watch when they think you want to watch, go with the "free" (i.e. license fee funded) NHS-like option. If you want to watch on your schedule, go with the paid BUPA-like one. Note that the latter will be cheaper than it would be if former didn't exist, because the former provides a great base to build on.

  27. ScottAS2

    I don't want a commercially-succesful BBC

    I don't want the BBC to be commercially successful. That most likely means lowest common denominator pap, which we can get just fine from... commercial stations. I'd like to see the BBC get back to the Rethian goals of educating, informing and entertaining, but whenever it tries to do something highbrow, it gets attacked for being elitist or wasting money on things of limited interest. Is it any surprise it reacts by trying to dumb down?

  28. Tony Paulazzo

    Wow, there are some BBC shills in this discussion - could you do better with £3.7 billion a year? Yes I fucking could!

    If Channel 4 can have a huge selection of old programmes for 'free' (via advertising), I'm damn sure the BBC can offer the same minus advertising.

    Fine, charge the non UK consumers a nominal Netflix like fee, but the British public do own all that back catalogue, they paid for it, ergo, it's theirs!

    1. Downside

      World/perception conflict alert

      you are not just getting <insert your favourite BBC show here> for your license fee. You also get a lot of services you aren't interested in. Radio three,5 Live , BBC parliament, tennis coverage, golf, Songs of Praise...

      It's the same principle that means we have nuclear submarines and schools full of children, when I'm not in the mood to nuke anyone, they wouldn't give me a free ride in a sub if I turned up ('even though I've paid for it'), nor do I have any use for schools full of children - I don't have any.

      The biggest rip off of all is paying north of ten quid a month for line rental. More than my license fee and for what, exactly? I mean, EXACTLY?

  29. Credas Silver badge

    To clarify

    But since the total number of subscribers has risen 45 per cent in the past year,

    The 45% increase was in new customers, not total subscribers. New customers amounted to 973,000, compared with a total UK & Ireland customer base of 12 million with 11% churn. Good results, but not quite as stellar as it sounded!

  30. enormous c word

    Stupid Article - the BBC is already a subscription service called a TV Licence

    This is really simple - the TV Licence is _already_ a subscription package to the BBC. Licence fee holders (ie the BBCs existing subscription service) should get access (as they already) do to current programming whether it is via Broadcast or Cable or via Internet. Non-subscribers should be able to pay-per view - including international subscribers. The BBC Archives should be opened up for Pay-per-view.

  31. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    License ≠ BBC

    Just a reminder that the TV license is not something you pay in return for having BBCness. I am not bothered about BBC and in fact I have my dish pointed at a satellite which doesn't broadcast BBC. I still have to pay however.

  32. Nick Pettefar

    Anything so long as we get to keep telly with no adverts!

  33. simon gardener

    Have you betrayed Us...

    Have you betrayed Us... Have you betrayed me ?

  34. Paul 5
    WTF?

    doesn't increasing income for the BBC mean WE will be paying more?

    So, says Comrade Orlowski... "discretionary spending. The mandatory telly tax prevents the BBC from benefiting from it."

    And, if the Beeb WERE allowed to benefit from all this lovely lovely discretionary spending on telly, then "...Sky has increased its revenue 34 per cent year on the year. Why wouldn’t BBC revenue go up by a similar amount, or even more?"

    What does this mean? Abolish the licence fee (which stops UK viewers from subscribing to BBC content) and the subscribers will end up paying on average somewhere north of 34% more?

    Ignoring the risk that splitting discretionary spending with yet another new player (the BBC) may not give them ALL an extra 34%, HOW, exactly, is getting viewers to pay MORE supposed to be a good thing for anyone outside the content-pricing cartel?

    Are we getting a little carried away with some kind of neoliberal fundamentalism that hates to see a "market opportunity" (read chance to charge people more) go to waste?

  35. Mr Templedene

    I thought the two big problems facing the BBC in releasing these old programs were legal issues

    1. Tracking down everyone that would be due royalties, or their descendants, heirs.

    2. The original contracts with the actors, presenters etc. didn't cover re-broadcasting the programs in all future formats and would have to be re-negotiated. (Didn't Dave Allen has a "no repeats" clause in his contract for example?)

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