The BBC recently saw a massive £750m-shaped hole appear in its budget, partly because it had to agree to offer those aged 75+ in the UK a free licence fee. That means it has to find new ways to commercialise its assets. One way it plans to do that is to sell downloads of its new and catalogue shows (up to 10,000 hours of programming to start with) from the autumn.
The Times broke the story but the BBC has denied this is the first step in a move to set up a subscription service. Much has been made of this being the BBC going toe to toe with iTunes (which does indeed sell downloads of some of the BBC’s biggest shows like Top Gear and Doctor Who) but really it says more about it having to understanding its audience is not going to buy DVDs for ever and that, given its exceptional work with the iPlayer, it should use its muscle and insight as a digital innovator to take control of as much of the production-exhibition-distribution-retail chain as possible.