Never Mind Premium Content, BBC iPlayer Needs To Go International, Personal
The BBC has said that as a result of the squeeze on its income source (aka The License Fee) it will look to open up iPlayer to third parties to provide streaming content, as well as investigating premium content streams for which UK users will have to pay.
This sounds to me like a particularly clumsy way of trying to switch funding streams. How will premium content even work? There's an expectation that the BBC's content should be free in the UK precisely because of the way it is funded.
Political machinations aside (and the current UK government has shown itself to be no friend of the BBC) there are arguments for modernizing the way the BBC operates online. Its news service is the only British or European site that breaks up what would otherwise be a completely US-centric online view of the world.
However its video content doesn't have the same online reach. iPlayer is UK only, despite massive demand for the service from abroad. The BBC needs to look at how it can use this demand to support the service.
International subscriptions seem a logical way forward. Yes there will be issues with content which the BBC doesn't have the right to broadcast internationally, however a lot of the BBC's content doesn't get sold abroad and still talks to an international audience.
An international subscription to content that the BBC can distribute internationally, perhaps sold at £25 per annum, would soon pick up the shortfall in funding that national politics has stripped it of.
The service can obviously go further. The BBC already asks users for video clips on important news stories. It could go significantly further than this and create a YouTube like streaming service leveraging its reputation to compete with the Google property. Mixing the best of user video into its subscription service, or even funding with adverts, could further boost the corporation's income, as well as provide it with a wider testing ground for new programming ideas. A sort of super-extended BBC3 if you like.
Along with the NHS, the BBC remains one of the few things that the world looks up to the UK for. The custodians of both those services have a duty to find ways to beat the short term and self-interest driven political forces that seek to destroy both of them.