Early this month we mentioned rumor floating around that the BBC is set to open up its own digital download platform for archive programming. BBC director general Mark Thompson has now announced a project named Project Barcelona that would allow viewers to download their favorite programs digitally and keep them permanently for a “relatively modest” fee. The archive would be open permanently, and the shows would be available indefinitely to those who license them.
Current BBC programs are streamed via iPlayer, but they are available for a limited time only. If fans of the show miss the episode, there’s currently no method of watching it again other than buying via iTunes or DVD. Thompson did note that producers in the UK would need to support the project. Project Barcelona is described as a digital equivalent of buying your favorite programs on DVD.
Thompson also maintains the licensing fees paid will provide a source of income to support independent program production within the UK rather than a sneaky second licensing. It’s no surprise that the BBC expects to be paid to view its back program catalog since popular shows are being sold via DVD and iTunes. I wonder if offering the programs directly will harm DVD for iTunes sales.