BBC iPlayer to offer TV shows before they have aired on television

The BBC has today announced a landmark trial in its BBC iPlayer catch-up and streaming service, with the broadcaster announcing that it will be running a year-long trial that will see programmes available to watch online before they’re aired on any of the BBC TV channels.

In a move that is set to change the way people use this service, the Beeb is testing out a feature that will see up to 40 hours of programming hitting iPlayer before it is aired on national TV.

In recent months premium services such as Netflix and LoveFilm have announced numerous distribution deals with TV networks to get exclusive ‘before it’s aired’ TV content for each service – most notably, Netflix will show the long awaited new season of Arrested Development and LoveFilm will show exclusive NBC American TV shows – so it looks like the BBC is putting plans in place to keep up with these services.

All these deals and changes are causing a major change in how people watch television services as well as how the one-per-week broadcast pattern of old is being thrown away for a new way of viewing TV.

There is only a limited amount of information regarding what the “40 hours of programming” limitations will include, but if the BBC is trialling the service for a whole year there is plenty of time to test and fine tune how the on-demand TV service will work.

The BBC news website is reporting that last year saw a record number of requests for programmes on the iPlayer, with 2012 seeing over 2.32 billion requests for TV and radio programmes, a rise on the 1.94 billion recorded in 2011.

It’s easy to see that we are officially in the golden era of streaming television with much afoot with the streaming and catch-up services at the moment; whether it’s the likes of premium services such as LoveFilm and Netflix or free catch-up on demand services like BBC iPlayer and 4oD, all are seeing improvements to services and massive increases in usage.

We are interested  to see what Auntie Beeb will do with the service and it’s exciting to be in the middle of such a massive change-up to the way we watch our entertainment.