BFI Player offers film audiences, industry new deal
October 2, 2013
By Colin Mann
The BFI (British Film Institute) has unveiled the BFI Player, a brand new video-on-demand platform aimed at the millions that enjoy independent and specialised film and who will now get the full BFI experience, wherever they live.
Available nationwide from October 9th, the BFI Player will support the UK’s film industry by offering new distribution opportunities whilst making great film accessible to the widest possible audience across the UK.
Greg Dyke, BFI Chair, who as former Director General at the BBC, was responsible for the introduction of the iPlayer, noted that it had transformed broadcasting, and suggested that the BFI Player had the potential to do the same for film, all across the UK.
“The appetite for archive film has never been keener; this is the right time to launch the BFI Player,” he stated, admitting that when he took over as Chair, he was concerned that the BFI “wasn’t really in the digital world” at all. “It seemed odd that we had the best film library in the world, but it wasn’t really available to everyone, just a few academics.”
According to Dyke, the number one priority in the BFI’s five-year ‘Film Forever’ strategy was to put audiences at the heart of everything it did and ensure that as many people as possible had choice and access to films across the UK. This entailed digitising the library.
“Everyone across the UK will now have access to the widest choice of film,” he declared, describing the launch as“a massive step forward” in ensuring that the British Film Institute was just that, rather than the ‘London’ Film Institute.
Launching to coincide with the BFI London Film Festival, the BFI Player will offer a mix of seven new channels, or ‘collections’, including behind-the-scenes at the Festival, contemporary and archive films.
Offering a mix of free (approximately 60 per cent) and pay-per-view (40 per cent) content that includes over 1,000 items, including hundreds of feature films in the launch period, the BFI says the BFI Player will go further than current VoD platforms by offering deep exploration and understanding of film content, chosen and contextualised by the experts at the BFI, all in HD quality. The BFI Player will evolve and grow as new partners and increasing content come on board over the coming months, with Phase 2 of the BFI Player set to launch in early 2014. It is initially optimised for PCs, Macs and tablets, with a dedicated app for the latter.
Special events will be a feature of the BFI Player, with the BFI revealing that Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant will launch on the BFI Player simultaneously with its UK theatrical release on 25th October, and the BFI restoration of The Epic Of Everest (1924) will launch on the BFI Player on the same day as its première at the BFI London Film Festival and UK cinema release on 18th October.
Dyke added that the launch was “a defining moment in the BFI’s 80 year history,” describing the Institute as “pivotal” to identifying great films and nurturing and giving a voice to great filmmakers in the UK, which was now offering a platform to take these stories out to whole new audiences.
Edward Humphrey, BFI Director of Digital, noted that audience behaviour had shifted to embrace digital platforms. “Now the BFI Player gives us a foundation from which we can support a digital future for film lovers and bring the story of film to a truly national audience. The UK film industry leads the world in digital innovation and we hope the BFI Player will quickly become an essential element in the distribution models of tomorrow.”