BBC iPlayer: Producers agree to deal to keep shows on for longer

The way has been paved for more programmes to stay on the iPlayer for up to 12 months, and potentially longer.

The deal between the BBC and producer's organisation Pact affects television programmes commissioned and shown on the BBC that are made by independent production companies.

Under the terms of the deal, the BBC will receive an automatic 12 month BBC iPlayer window on all content it commissions within its initial payment.

According to the BBC, the agreement also sets out fixed rates for exclusive and non-exclusive extensions to the iPlayer window beyond 12 months, except where otherwise agreed as part of the funding arrangements for the production. Currently content is only guaranteed to be on iPlayer for 30 days, unless by separate negotiation.

Separate discussions will take place over children’s content; content commissioned by BBC Three for both linear and online publication will retain its current initial iPlayer window set out in the terms of trade.

The terms will apply to all new commissions starting this coming Monday.

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, said

“This is an important deal for the BBC, the industry, and the wider public. Not only have we reaffirmed our commitment to supporting independent UK producers, we have also ensured licence fee payers have access to the best content for at least a year on BBC iPlayer. Everybody wins.”

In return for the 12 month iPlayer window and agreements on fees for extra iPlayer windows, the BBC has agreed to take a smaller cut of any sales, allowing producers to profit more from commercial exploitation in the UK and internationally.

Explainer: What does this mean for viewers?

Many have wondered why the availability of iPlayer programmes is so limited compared to other on-demand platforms, and why the BBC can't make more of its older programmes available on the platform.

Part of the problem was that over the years, an increasing number of BBC programmes were made by independent producers. Another issue was linked to regulations stopping the BBC from crowding out commercial broadcasters.

But after Ofcom loosened regulations last year, confirming the BBC could make more programmes available for longer - with 12 months becoming the new standard - the BBC and independent producers had to agree to new terms, ones that wouldn't leave the producers out of pocket or given a disincentive to make programmes for the BBC.

As a result, the BBC now has the right to show many more programmes on its linear channel and for 12 months on the iPlayer, with options to extend availablity for future iPlayer windows, with an agreed fixed fee payable by the BBC to the producers in such circumstances.

Ultimately, some independent production companies may still wish to exploit programmes they make themselves, which means that some content previously broadcast on the BBC may still find itself on other video-on-demand services.