Advanced Television

BBC iPlayer launches in Canada

December 1, 2011

By Colin Mann

BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) is launching the international version of the iPlayer video-on-demand service in Canada, via a subscription iPad app, which features titles from the broadcaster’s library such as Walking with Dinosaurs and Top Gear. Initially, the Global iPlayer will be only available to Canadians via the iPad, and can be downloaded for free from the iTunes app store.

BBCWW’s EVP of digital Daniel Heaf, speaking at a Toronto launch event, said he liked to think there was “a huge pent-up demand for BBC content around the world”.

With the free download, users are able to watch some 30 selected programmes a month before having to subscribe. For a monthly fee of CAD$8.99 (€6.55) a month or CAD$84.99 a year, subscribers get access to more than 1,500 hours of programming from the BBCWW catalogue.

Heaf said BBCWW would look at taking digital premiere rights for Canada for the app on a title-by-title basis, suggesting that if a title became big enough to sustain taking the premiere VoD window, BBCWW would be “thrilled and delighted” to make it available on the iPlayer.

He sought to differentiate the Canadian offering from the British iPlayer. “This is a very, very different type of service – it’s not a seven-day catch-up service. This is a BBC-branded service where we aggregate a very curated experience,” he explained.

BBCWW Canada will soft-launch the Global iPlayer throughout December, promoting it via its BBC services and making 30 different festive programs available on the app, on a one-a-day basis.

BBCWW’s president of worldwide networks and Global iPlayer, Jana Bennett, said that Canada had always been an enthusiastic supporter of BBC programming, and that the Global iPlayer would allow the BBC share thousands of acclaimed British shows with one of its most dedicated audiences. “Canadian subscribers to the global iPlayer will literally have the best of the BBC at their fingertips,” she declared.

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