The BBC has unveiled plans to launch its own video-on-demand streaming platform in North America, which aims to deliver all of its channels’ programming to what it calls a “niche” US audience.
“We’re launching a new over-the-top video service in America offering BBC fans programmes they wouldn’t otherwise get – showcasing British actors, our programme-makers – and celebrating our culture,” said BBC director general Tony Hall in s speech this week.
At present, the only outlets for limited BBC programming in the US are BBC America, plus Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which together deliver a mixture of popular shows, such as Doctor Who and Luther, and classics, like The Thick of It, The Office, and the original House of Cards. This new service will deliver all contemporary content, without affecting existing licensing deals with other providers.
Lord Hall says the Corporation needs to broaden its revenue streams in order to survive, with the UK TV License fee frozen at £145.50 for the last five years (set to be six in total), resulting in a 16% real terms cut in funding when inflation is taken into consideration.
“We need to raise commercial income to supplement the licence fee so we can invest as much as possible in content for UK audiences,” Lord Hall said. “Without that income, we can’t continue what we already do for the UK in drama or natural history.”
“The subscription service will complement our existing footprint in the USA. Other video streaming services remain an important part of our business plan to ensure we bring the best of British to our audiences,” a BBC spokesperson added.
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