The BBC has unveiled the future of the Big British Castle in the digital age, promising to transform iPlayer from catch-up TV to online TV. TV shows will be available to watch for a month instead of a week, with special online-only channels, the option to personalise iPlayer and even buy BBC shows. And the Beeb's Playlister joins forces with Spotify, YouTube and other music services to take tunes from the radio to your phone, computer or MP3 player.
"The people of this country make a bold & generous commitment in paying for the BBC. They own it, they love it, and they expect the best," says director general Tony Hall as he reveals Auntie Beeb's digital direction. "Our audiences demand to be involved, to share with others, to debate with others."
The Beeb's online streaming service iPlayer is central to the plans for the license fee-funded broadcaster's digital future. You'll be able to personalise iPlayer and create your own evening schedule with access to more stuff before it is on TV.
Special iPlayer channels
Plans include pop-up channels around specific events such as Glastonbury, as well as online-only channels such as Radio 1 TV, Arts or Science. Episodes from the archive will also be shown as part of themed channels.
Telly shows like Top Gear and The Great British Bake Off or The White Queen and Doctor Who, and radio shows like The Archers and Test Match Special are set to be available to view for thirty days after transmission, instead of just seven.
A third of iPlayer viewing and listening is now viewed and listened to on a smart phone or tablet. As the barriers around traditional TV and radio and online content break down, Radio 1 is getting a video channel on iPlayer for clips of exclusive performances and interviews, while BBC comedy makes its debut online before you see it on TV.
In perhaps the boldest move announced today, the BBC Store will let you buy and keep BBC shows. It's not clear what kind of content will be available -- it could simply be the stuff the BBC already sells on DVD -- that could put the publicly-funded broadcaster into direct competition with rivals. Imagine if classics from the BBC archive were only available on iPlayer and not, for example, on iTunes.
The new Playlister service meanwhile takes music you hear on BBC radio and creates playlists on Spotify, YouTube and Deezer. Sign in to Playlister and create a personalised playlist of new tunes played by Zane Lowe, Lauren Laverne, Daniel P Carter or any BBC radio or TV show, and you can then export that list of top tuneage to your music service of choice. You'll even be able to make a note of songs played in the background of TV shows, like the music playing in the caff in EastEnders.
Playlister launches in "coming days" for Web browsers.
The next generation of technology
Harking back to the days of the BBC Micro, the Beeb also plans to inspire kids to learn about creating digital stuff, from apps and games to coding, digital art and even robotics.
The BBC is due to have its license fee funding renewed in 2016, ahead of the Corporation's centenary in 2022.
Oh, and BBC One is getting a +1 channel, BBC One+1. Is iPlayer worthy of your license fee? What features do you want from the BBC in the digital era? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.