In January 2019, the BBC set out plans to transform BBC iPlayer, from primarily a catch-up and linear TV service into a destination for audiences, where the BBC’s programmes would be available for longer, both for individual programmes and box sets.
This was the first step of a Public Interest Test. This test, set out in our Royal Charter and Agreement, is designed to ensure that when the BBC makes material changes to its UK Public Services, we are able to demonstrate that the additional public value outweighs any potential adverse impact on our competitors or the market.
Following extensive audience research, economic analysis and a period of consultation, the BBC Board has concluded that the proposals for BBC iPlayer satisfy the Public Interest Test criteria.
The Public Interest Test submission and the main supporting evidence used to inform the BBC Board’s decision are published below.
The BBC has now referred the proposal to Ofcom who, as the BBC’s regulator, will decide whether the proposal can proceed or not. Information on how Ofcom will reach their decision can be found on Ofcom's website.
BBC iPlayer Public Interest Test submission
This document describes the proposals for BBC iPlayer and an explanation of why the proposals satisfy the Public Interest Test. As described in the BBC’s submission to Ofcom, the proposals would allow:
- A new standard availability of at least 12 months for all commissions;
- Full box sets of selected returning titles; and
- A selection of non-returning programmes extended for longer or brought back from the archive.
The BBC is satisfied that the proposals will deliver high public value by improving the quality of BBC iPlayer, ensuring that we deliver a universal service that meets their current expectations and will increase the value audiences receive for their licence fee. By having more diverse British content conveniently discoverable in one place, the proposals will help us to better deliver the BBC’s Mission and Public Purposes, especially to:
- Support learning for people of all ages;
- Show the most creative, high quality and distinctive output and services; and
- Reflect, represent and serve the diverse communities of all of the UK’s nations and regions.
The BBC’s findings also conclude that the proposed changes will not crowd out competition. They simply bring BBC iPlayer into line with the industry standard and will allow the BBC to stop the continued decline of BBC iPlayer we would otherwise expect to see over the next five years.
The BBC commissioned independent quantitative and qualitative audience research from MTM.
Economic modelling and analysis
The BBC commissioned Communications Chambers and Frontier Economics to model the predicted reach and share of BBC iPlayer after the changes, and examine the impact on fair and effective competition.
- Communications Chambers report on modelling the impact of the changes on reach and share of viewing
- Frontier Economics report on impact on competition
On 7 January 2019, the BBC opened a six week consultation on its plans to transform BBC iPlayer. We received 32 responses from stakeholders. Where permission has been given, these are published below. We also received 51 responses from members of the public. A summary of those responses is included in Annex 2 of the Public Interest Test submission.
- Action on Hearing Loss
- BAPLA (British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies)
- Directors UK
- DOC Society
- Incorporated Society of Musicians
- Mechanical Copyright Protection Society
- Music Publishers Association
- National Association of Deafened People
- Professor Catherine Johnson
- PRS for Music
- S4C (English)
- S4C (Cymraeg)
- UK Music
- Virgin Media
- Voice of the Listener and Viewer
- Writers' Digital Payments Ltd
- Writers' Guild of Great Britain
Consultation (now closed)
The BBC’s consultation on the proposals to improve BBC iPlayer was open from from 7 January to 15 February 2019 and is now closed.