Catch up for longer: Ofcom approves iPlayer plans

Ofcom has approved BBC plans to extend the period of time programmes are available on the iPlayer.

Most programmes will be made available for up to 12 months as standard, with children's programmes staying on the iPlayer for up to five years.

In a statement issued this morning, Ofcom said the changes "could deliver significant public value over time. They could increase choice and availability of public service broadcast content and help ensure the BBC remains relevant  in the face of changing viewing habits."

After 12 months, BBC content will no longer be guaranteed to be exclusive on the iPlayer, paving the way for older programmes to become available on subscription service Britbox UK, which launches later this year or via UKTV.

Earlier this year, the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Studios, took control of seven UKTV channels and the UKTV Play app in a deal with Discovery, in order to have greater control of the rights of programmes older than 12 months in preparation for the changes to the iPlayer and the launch of BritBox UK.

As viewing habits change, BritBox will effectively replace the BBC's previous method of producing videos or DVDs of older programmes for sale in shops.

But Ofcom has said that will require the BBC to set out in its annual plan how the iPlayer will fulfil the BBC's mission and public purposes over the coming year, in line with requirements already in place for traditional linear channels.

Timelines for the typical availability of a BBC programme:

Linear TV screening 
iPlayer (up to 12 months; 5 years if children's)
 BritBox, UKTV & UKTV Play or other*

*Programmes made for the BBC by independent producers may follow a different path after 12 months.