The BBC is extending the amount of time shows are available to download from iPlayer from seven to 30 days, but is scrapping the facility to watch all previous episodes of a series.
The changes, which will come into effect this June, are a “sensible move that will benefit audiences and provide a clearer and more consistent catch-up service,” according to the BBC Trust, which sanctioned the move.
The decision to extend the iPlayer window was also approved by the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, which ruled that the impact of the BBC’s decision on commercial television services was “unlikely to be material”, even though the move represents a four-fold increase in the amount of content that will be available through the BBC’s catch-up service.
The decision to scrap series stacking appears to be something of a sop to commercial rivals such as Sky, which heavily promotes its Box Set service to subscribers.
However, the BBC Trust insists series stacking was a little-used feature of the iPlayer and the impact of its removal will be “limited”.
“Firstly, series stacking applies to 15% of on-demand content and, as a result, contributes to a relatively small (2%) share of total iPlayer viewing after day seven,” according to the BBC Trust’s assessment of the changes.
“Secondly, when the removal of series stacking is combined with the extension of the catch-up window, the cumulative effect reduces the impact further; after day 30, the contribution of series-stacked titles to overall iPlayer viewing is very small.”