There’s good news for UK TV viewers today – the BBC has boosted iPlayer’s hitherto seven-day catch-up window to 30 days.
BBC Director-General Tony Hall first made the announcement almost a year ago to the day, though no concrete date had been given for the move.
Though a handful of shows were already available via iPlayer for more than seven days, the vast majority were limited to a week-long window. From today, however, the British broadcaster will be shifting the viewing and listening window for both iPlayer and its radio-focused cousin iPlayer Radio to a full month.
Launched way back in 2007, there’s little question that BBC iPlayer has set the benchmark for what an online catch-up service should look like in the 21st century. Today, viewers and listeners place more than seven million TV and radio programme requests each day across the country, so by increasing the window to 30 days this can only lead to an increase in viewing (and perhaps binge-watching).
It’s worth noting here that some programmes, including Panorama, Question Time, Click, and Prime Minister’s Questions are available for up to a year, with some shows in BBC Four Collections available for even longer. Conversely, for contractual reasons, some programming will still only be available for less than 30 days, including Crimewatch and Match of the Day (boooo).
The BBC has been rolling out a redesigned iPlayer across its numerous platforms throughout this year, shifting from being a static ‘Jukebox’-type service to a more intelligent ‘what you might want to watch’-style offering
“There is a huge demand to make programmes available for longer on BBC iPlayer – as we continue to see people search for their favourite programmes after the seven-day catch up window,” explains Ralph Rivera, Director of Future Media at the BBC.
Given that you can also download content for offline consumption for up to 30 days, today’s move effectively means you currently have 2 months to watch all BBC content (e.g. if you were to download a show on the last day of the initial catch-up window). But unfortunately, this will soon be changing to a flat 30 days from the moment of broadcast, meaning downloads will be brought into line with streaming and the time restrictions will run concurrently.
Perhaps the next big evolution in the BBC iPlayer story will be when it finally launches the commercial BBC Store offering, letting you pay to download and keep shows for good. Though there is still no word on when this will be unveiled.