BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie (above) was the keynote speaker at the IBC 2014 trade show in Amsterdam, where he confirmed that the BBC's commercial arm is going to launch a paid download service similar to the iTunes store in 2015. The BBC Store has been an open secret since it was mentioned in the BBC's annual report back in July.
Tim said that the service will focus on being easy to use, saying "we want to deliver iPlayer functionality". It'll focus on paid downloads, and there won't be a Netflix-style subscription offering.
The Store will to sell TV shows and boxsets that are no longer available for free streaming or timed-limited download after 30 days – in the same way that those shows are available through iTunes and on DVD and Blu-ray. The BBC extended the "watching window" from seven days to 30 over the summer for most of its content – though some still remain limited to seven days due to licensing restrictions (such as US films).
He also suggested that the BBC Store could sell in markets outside the UK.
BBC Earth offers new nature videos and quizzes
The BBC is also launching BBC Earth "in the next few weeks". BBC Earth is a site for viewers in and outside the UK that builds on the broadcaster's grand heritage for nature programmes and documentaries, but moving away from what Tim described as the kind of nature documentaries where "it takes three years to get one shot". BBC Earth's content will be faster-to-produce and cheaper – and include both video and interactive media – but it's also tailored to a Buzzfeed audience.
Tim said he expected most of the content would be short and easy-to-digest – he specifically mentioned the popularity of "crazy animal stories". It would also be easy to share and embed – Tim believes most of the video won't be watched on BBC Earth site but embedded on blogs, news sites (including BBC News) and social networks.
Some of this content will be created around the BBC's flagship nature shows, which others will be created specifically for it. In the former category, Tim gave an example of a where a filmmaker taking years to produce a big-budget nature show for BBC1 would also be expected to create video diaries and more detailed content for BBC Earth.
There will also be what Tim called "interactive surveys", which sounds suspiciously like Buzzfeed-style quizzes – which seem to be a fad that's falling out of favour (at least from my own personal Facebook News Feed).
BBC Earth will live at bbc.com/earth (which currently redirects to the Nature section of the BBC site). Like the rest of bbc.com, it'll be ad-supported outside the UK, and covered by the Licence Fee in the UK.
Other 'genre sites' are likely to follow in "areas where we have competive advantage".
You can watch the full keynote on the IBC TV site.