One of the common complaints about the otherwise excellent BBC iPlayer app is that you can't access recently-broadcast TV shows. The BBC has outlined plans to offer a download service which would allow viewers to pay to download copies of shows minutes after they first air, but while that sounds promising, Australians are unlikely to benefit.
While there's no launch timetable, BBC director general Mark Thompson has said the UK national broadcaster is working on a plan, codenamed 'Project Barcelona', to offer downloads following broadcast. "It's the exact analogy of going into a high-street shop to buy a DVD or, before that, a VHS cassette."
However, while we've always been able to do that in Australia (albeit often on a different schedule), the download service is likely to be UK-only. As Thompson put it:
Our ambition would ultimately be to let everyone who pays the licence fee access all of our programmes on this basis and, over time, to load more and more of our archive into the window.
Because overseas viewers don't pay the licence fee (used in the UK to fund the national broadcaster, a model Australia abandoned decades ago), it seems highly unlikely they'd get access to this service. It's the same reason we can't use the browser-based BBC iPlayer unless we mess around with VPNs.
Ultimately, the BBC might offer digital sales (it already sells through iTunes, for instance), but this doesn't look like an immediate solution for those of us who would be happy to pay for legal copies of UK shows. With the existing paid iPlayer app a big success in Australia, let's hope they fast-track
BBC boss confirms TV download pay service [The Guardian]