Friday, December 2, 2011
OTT wave hits Canada: BBC iPlayer launches
Canada is the 16th country invaded by the iPlayer but the first one where Netflix is present. It is going to be interesting to see how both giants are going to react to each other's strategy, no doubt in a rehearsal of a BBC launch in the US. While Netflix is predominantly about films, BBC iPlayer is a TV content aggregator, spanning radio and TV shows, news , concerts, documentary, comedies and more undefinable British genres like Little Britain.
While the launch is currently limited to iPAD, it should not be longh before it spans iPhones, Android, Wii, PS3 and laptop, as in other markets. BBC iPlayer global is a subset of the UK selection, and will propose only TV content at the start. The genres proposed are Contemporary drama, classic comedy, family & kids, classic &period drama, entertainment, modern comedy, Science & Nature, Sci-Fi, Music & Culture, Crime &Thriler, Lifestyle and News Specials & Documentaries.
BBC does not see itself competing against Hulu or Netflix, arguing that they are specialist, providing carefully curated content, to reflect the "voice of BBC", while other aggregators are more generalist in nature. Netflix tends to agree, citing different demographic target for their users. In September this year, BBC iPlayer served 153 million requests in the UK only, with an average 1.7 million viewer a day and a monthly viewing average of 69 minutes for TV (excl. radio). Numbers for outside the UK are not yet available. Most of iPlayer usage is during TV viewing hours, hinting at strong companion screen trends.
I think it is a strong sign, to start and see niche offers transcend their geographical boundaries to go truly OTT. BBC has found a huge following and not only with Brit expats for its acclaimed shows such as Top gear, Little Britain, etc... The walled gardens are crumbling and consumers are the winners. This tidal wave has a tremendous impact on mobile networks (capacity to accommodate video traffic surge), MSOs and PayTV (where traditional service providers need to find a way to protect VOD revenues and remain relevant), and Consumer Electronics (where CE vendors see themselves becoming content aggregators through app stores and native apps enhancing content discovery and access).