The BBC are to launch their own video download store, ready to duke it out with the likes of iTunes for your cash, BBC director general Mark Thompson has confirmed.
Codenamed Project Barcelona, the service will allow viewers to download and keep shows “for a relatively modest fee,” almost instantly after they had aired on TV, meaning that in the future you may not have to wait months after a show has finished to own them as boxsets.
New content such as Top Gear of Doctor Who will also be joined by classic archive content such as Only Fools and Horses and Fawlty Towers, meaning a wide range of BBC programming could be available straight away if the project bears fruit.
“This is not a second licence-fee by stealth or any reduction in the current public service offering from the BBC – it’s the exact analogy of going into a high-street shop to buy a DVD or, before that, a VHS cassette, ” said Thompson.
“For decades the British public has understood the distinction between watching Dad’s Army on BBC1 and then going out to buy a permanent copy of it. Barcelona is the digital equivalent of doing the second.”
Though Thompson would not be reveal pricing or launch details, it is thought that shows could cost in the region of £1.89 per episode.
With Apple already offering plenty of BBC shows through iTunes, it seems a shrewd way for BBC to rake in some extra cash, cutting out Apple’s middle-man fee and helping to bridge the deficit from the licence fee freeze.