Ofcom has been asked to approve BBC plans to make programmes available for longer on iPlayer and to offer more archive titles and box sets.
The broadcaster is looking to boost the range and availability of content on its streaming service in order to deliver better value for Licence Fee payers and ensure audiences can enjoy shows before they become available on commercial platforms.
Its proposals would see more content from the BBC archive available on iPlayer, plus new shows being made available for at least 12 months after they are first shown, making it easier to catch-up and discover hit shows.
An internal BBC Public Interest Test claims the changes would bring BBC iPlayer “into line with the industry standard” and “will not have an adverse impact on fair and effective competition.”
It also warns that continuing to impose limits on BBC iPlayer “risks undermining the BBC’s ability to continue to innovate and evolve its service in line with changing market norms and audience expectations.”
Charlotte Moore, Director, Content, said: “Audience expectations have changed dramatically, viewers are now used to being able to watch what they want, when they want, and they expect much more from BBC iPlayer.
“We want to make the best UK programmes available to audiences for longer and provide a range of series and box sets for everyone to enjoy. This will bring the BBC iPlayer in line with what other services already offer and give audiences even greater value for their licence fee.
“The media landscape is changing rapidly, and global media giants are increasingly dominant. We hope Ofcom can consider these plans quickly and enable us to deliver what UK audiences want and expect.”
Ofcom will complete a BBC Competition Assessment before deciding whether the changes can go ahead.
The iPlayer is seen as increasingly important to ensuring the BBC remains relevant to new audience and earlier this week BBC Director-General Tony Hall announced the creation of a new Controller role to oversee the platform’s development.
However last year a parliamentary committee questioned whether Hall and other BBC managers fully understood the impact keeping shows on iPlayer for longer would have on its need to exploit content commercially, such as through DVD releases and sales to commercial streaming services.
In response to today’s application, an Ofcom spokesperson said: “We recognise that the BBC needs to innovate and keep pace with viewers’ needs.
“Under the BBC’s Charter, our role is to check whether these changes might harm popular, competing services like ITV Hub or All 4 – and if so, whether that’s justified by the value to BBC viewers.
“Now we’ve received the BBC’s own assessment, we are able to work swiftly and expect to conclude our process by August.”