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The Media United Kingdom Technology Entertainment

BBC Lets Viewers Buy Shows and Episodes Permanently, But No 'Extras' (thestack.com) 80

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC has opened a new online store which lets viewers purchase TV programs that do not expire in its iPlayer streaming outlet after thirty days, but which apparently remain stored for streaming in the same style as Amazon's video purchases. The BBC claims the extensive archive inventory is available only to UK-based viewers, though its VPN-blocking attempts do not currently seem to prevent purchases from outside the country. Additionally the BBC's high-quality disc extras do not seem to have made the jump from disc to digital, signifying possible further decline for 'value added' features such as commentaries and documentaries in the future.
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BBC Lets Viewers Buy Shows and Episodes Permanently, But No 'Extras'

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  • bitrot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iamthecheese ( 1264298 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @11:18AM (#50870543)
    How permanent is permanent? I lost north of 300 novels when Nook bought e-book retailer Fictionwise. I could have downloaded and archived them one at a time I guess. Except for the ones that expired a year after purchase due to draconian DRM. Anyway the point is I no longer trust ANY DRM'd material, especially streamed content. If it's not downloadable and DRM free, you never own it.
    • Re:bitrot (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @11:32AM (#50870657)

      How permanent is permanent?

      Exactly this. I was recently asked why I still buy DVDs when you can just get everything from Netflix, Amazon, etc. While I do like and use those services, there isn't a guarantee that what is on them today will always be on them*. Case in point: Back To The Future was free to Amazon Prime members a few weeks ago. Now there's a charge for it. Meanwhile, I have the DVDs and can copy the videos to a local hard drive to stream within my network.

      * I was also asked why I don't just download my videos from torrent sites. While this would be getting videos permanently, I also consider this an illegal method and prefer to stick to legal methods of obtaining my video entertainment. If there is no legal method - or if the legal method is too expensive/restrictive/etc - then I'll just do without. There's plenty of other video entertainment out there.

      • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

        Well, if you absolutely need a guarantee that a given movie (or whatever) will be available at a given time, then you must have your own copy. But how often is that actually the case?

        • This won't be the case for everything. Things I feel I need to have access to at all times, I'll buy the disc versions for. For everything else, I'll watch via Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. However, there are times when I'd like to watch a show/movie and realize that it's been taken off of streaming. When that happens, it's nice to have my own copy to play.

      • by fuzzyf ( 1129635 )
        I have a pretty big dvd (and now bluray) collection but found myself using netflix and itunes (apple tv) more andmore. I use itunes to rent movies, as I do not want to build a collection tied to ecosystem like apple (or any other for that mater).
        I rent movies on itunes, watch series and movies on netflix, and if I stuble across anything really good then I'll buy it on dvd/bd. Because I really like to own good movies.

        But during the years I have very rarly fetched one of my dvds and played it. Untill a mon
    • How permanent is permanent?

      Until they decide to delete it or change the terms of service or act on a bogus DMCA request or until some executive changes his mind. That's the new definition of "permanent".

      If it's not downloadable and DRM free, you never own it.

      Exactly. If you don't have actual control over it then you don't own it, no matter what kind of spin they put on it.

      But here's something else to consider...they act like you're getting some fantastic deal because the shows and episodes don't expire, but seriously, how useful is that? I mean, it's great that they don't expire, but how

      • But here's something else to consider...they act like you're getting some fantastic deal because the shows and episodes don't expire, but seriously, how useful is that? I mean, it's great that they don't expire, but how often do any of us go back and watch stuff more than once?

        Said someone who obviously doesn't have small children.

        • Said someone who obviously doesn't have small children.

          I did have a small child, but even then we didn't watch a lot of stuff and not repeatedly.

          Some stuff, sure, but I can't recall anything we went back and watched again after more than a couple of months. (We probably did, but I don't think there was a lot of that going on.)

          Admittedly we were not huge TV-consumers but we did watch stuff....Blues Clues, cartoons, a few movies here and there.

    • How permanent is permanent?

      In this case, I'd say "not at all".

      If it's not downloadable and DRM free, you never own it.

      Exactly. Keeping it in their player, to stream it to you, until they decide to change the terms isn't "buying", and it isn't "permanent".

      That happens when they give you a DRM free copy you can store offline, transfer between devices, and make your own backups.

      This is renting until they change their mind and stop making it available.

    • How permanent is permanent?

      If you don't get a physical copy of it, or at the very least a locally-stored, DRM-free copy, then you paid for something that may as well not even exist, because X-number of years from now when they decide the service isn't profitable enough anymore and they discontinue it, what you 'bought' will end up going away.

    • by praxis ( 19962 )

      Not very, is the answer. I bought a movie from Amazon. I wanted to watch it on my family vacation to Canada. I couldn't, because it was region locked. They were nice enough to refund me that purchase and every Amazon Video purchase I had ever made, though. These days, I no longer buy media. That whole industry has soured me on "owning" media. I only rent because at least then I get what I paid for.

    • "What could possibly go wrong?" asked the man with a shelf full of worthless DIVX discs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 05, 2015 @11:19AM (#50870553)

    If you make things too difficult to get, too pricey, or leave out too much content, I'm going to pirate it for free.

    You'd think content providers would realize this, but apparently not.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Thursday November 05, 2015 @12:02PM (#50870911) Homepage

      Looking at the site it's a crappy deal. Doctor Who series 9 is £21.99 for 13 episodes. If the quality is the same as iPlayer that means 720p and low bit rate. Streaming to supported devices only, no ability to watch it on my TV or download it for safe keeping.

      For comparison Amazon has the BluRay of Season 8 (season 9 isn't out yet, it's still airing) for £24.95, so only £3 more. Comes with extras, easy to rip and watch anywhere, better video and sound quality.

      What a joke.

  • by CodeArtisan ( 795142 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @11:38AM (#50870691)
    While the BBC pays lip service to restricting VPN access, I don't think they are wanting to implement any bans. They don't lose much (apart from bandwidth) by overseas viewers streaming on BBC iPlayer, and will likely generate extra revenue when the same viewers buy DVDs of programmes they enjoy from their local Amazon.
    • They don't lose much (apart from bandwidth) by overseas viewers streaming on BBC iPlayer

      Other than that the BBC doesn't own the worldwide rights to all programmes available through iPlayer.

      and will likely generate extra revenue when the same viewers buy DVDs of programmes they enjoy from their local Amazon.

      Export of BBC-produced programmes is handled through its BBC Worldwide subsidiary. At the top of the Google Search results for bbc worldwide from a PC in the US was an ad for Hulu. (Other search engines are available.) Perhaps you could bug BBC Worldwide to set up a counterpart to iPlayer for use in countries where BBC Worldwide has not already licensed exclusive rights to a particular programme.

    • While the BBC pays lip service to restricting VPN access, I don't think they are wanting to implement any bans.

      Ignoring VPNs, the BBCs geographic restrictions are easy to get around (or they were). My experiments with this (perhaps a year to 18 months ago) showed that all you need to avoid the BBCs geographic restrictions was a UK-located nameserver.

  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @11:41AM (#50870715)

    I guess HBO has the rights to that series.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I thought that too, but your humour is wasted on the Slashdot "editors", who don't even understand the submissions, let alone edit them.

  • Being able to view online for as long as the BBC engages in that business is NOT permanent.

    Real Permanently means you can download and copy to another format, so that hundreds of years from now, if England gets conquered by France/Germany/Iceland/Aliens/Atlantis, and the BBC is destroyed and current formats are no longer viewable, you could legally have downloaded it into new, currently undiscovered recording methods to be played back holographically.

    Any thing else is NOT permanent.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's streaming only and DRM encumbered. Seeing as we've paid for it all already through the TV licence tax, they're somewhat taking the piss. The BBC claim they use external companies to make many shows, but the truth is these companies were internal departments spun-off into little Ltd to create this separation. They do not create content for other broadcasters, and they are staffed by ex-BBC employees. There is no competitive tendering, it's just like passing projects to internal depts.

    • [posted from 2057]
      To be played back in a lame flatscreen within your holographic player, like old people used to watch. No thanks gramps!
      • by Holi ( 250190 )
        You guys still have't figured out upscaling?

        That's it I'm building the doomsday device. How do you like 2057 now.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @11:45AM (#50870753) Homepage

    The BBC claims the extensive archive inventory is available only to UK-based viewers

    As a Briton living in the states, this is an injustice. Ive furiously sipped the rest of my tea and intend to post a letter to the home office at once. I shant, cant, and wont tolerate a world where i cant loaf idly on a sunday with a sack of crisps and binge on last of the summer wine.

    • Nice try American scum. But a real Briton would not have omitted the all important apostrophe while writing in the Queen's own language.

      • by Minwee ( 522556 )
        When in Rome, do a's the Roman's do.
      • A real Briton would have known that binge-watching Last of the Summer Wine is marginally less enjoyable than bathing your testicles in hydrochloric acid.
        • by Snufu ( 1049644 )

          A real Briton...bathing your testicles in hydrochloric acid.

          As a wanna be Briton, may I request contextual clarification on the following:
          1) British fondness for tea.
          2) "Teabagging" related injuries.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Still won't simply sell you the files? I give many fewer fucks about the "extras" than I give about having the damn files and being able to play them however and whenever I want to. (And if you can't do that, then you haven't bought anything.)

    It's amazing that the industry is still so anti-revenue in 2015. They bitch about piracy and yet still, to date, comedians [louisck.net] are the only people who actually do anything about it.

    I guess the BBC doesn't have stockholders so their management doesn't really have to wor

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @12:01PM (#50870893)

    Of course it is very advantageous if you're the seller, but all I can see are the extra risks, inconvenience and cost to consumers of buying stuff that you never get a local copy of, so you have to stream online each time you play it.

    It completely boggles my mind why anyone would give good money for that, vs buying media that you can e.g. download DRM-free copies of, or media you can (legally thanks to fair use) rip local copies from.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      It completely boggles your mind? Really? Does it completely boggle your mind why there are libraries too?

      Let's say we both have $100 to spend on movies for a year. For that money, I can get a subscription to Netflix, and if I want to watch one movie a day at the end of the year I will have seen 365 different movies. For the same money, you can buy what, a dozen DVDs? If you want to watch a movie a day, you can watch a total of 12 movies, 30 times each. Sounds great.

      We have about 250 DVDs that we purcha

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        What happens when you want to watch a movie and you're somewhere without internet? What happens if you do ever want to watch the same movie more than once? do you pay again?
        Work out your TRUE cost of streaming, e.g you might be paying cable internet just so you can stream, as well as your netflix plan over say 10 years, and suddenly my approach doesn't look so bad.

  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @12:02PM (#50870897)

    The BBC looking for ways to generate income now the Licence Fee is on the way out? For those not in the UK, if you watch live tv (either BBC or other), you have to (by law) buy an annual TV licence (approx 140GBP a year) - from which a large chunk gets paid to the BBC as the national television programme provider, and provides a good amount of their income.

    This model is clearly under threat with the need to watch live tv declining. I moved into a new house 6 years ago and decided to save money by stopping paying for a tv licence and just watching on catch-up via the BBC and other tv players for other stations, you don't need a licence for that (the crucial definition is you need one if you're watching a live transmission). I suspect there are many like me. Gone are the days 99% of the country would need a TV licence. With the numbers declining and the BBC's commanding position declining (gone are the 1970s when there were only 3 tv channels, and our government is in favour of breaking up or selling off government run services): I think the BBC is working out how it generates money in the future and trying out some different approaches.

    • I hope they won't take the German approach and declare that you need a TV licence if you have a device able to watch TV programs. This includes smartphones, tablets and computers.

      On the other hand, I personally would pay the licence if I lived in the UK... I do enjoy some of the BBC programs on a regular basis.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As a US citizen I would gladly pay the license fee to access BBC content on iPlayer legally. The BBC America channel here isn't that great and it seems it like it lags behind about a year for content.

  • It seems that we hear the words 'permanently' when used to reference a digital service, everyone has had the wool pulled over their eyes. Permanently purchase Flappybird? i guarantee you you won't be able to play that in 10 years. Permanently view the video from BBC? lets say i 'buy' (license?) a copy today. Does anyone actually believe that in 2037 i'll be able to view that content, or have some sort of recourse to get either an updated version without extra money, or simply a refund since i'm no longer
  • by LoyalOpposition ( 168041 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @01:25PM (#50871547)

    The BBC has opened a new online store which lets viewers purchase TV programs

    Pretty sure that's "programmes."

    ~Loyal

  • So you are PAYING money to buy something you already PAID with your taxes.

    Sounds like the worst of capitalism and socialism.
    • So you are PAYING money to buy something you already PAID with your taxes. Sounds like the worst of capitalism and socialism.

      The TV licence fee isn't really a tax. It's optional, like car tax (i.e. if you don't want to pay it, don't use a TV/car)..

      • What?

        That's like buying carrots at the grocery store, and then having to buy them again when you take them out of the fridge.

        Because, you see, you can just leave them in the fridge.

        If that's the case then income taxes are not really taxes because you can just stop earning money and you don't have to pay anything.
  • "Digital" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Thursday November 05, 2015 @03:25PM (#50872447) Homepage

    the BBC's high-quality disc extras do not seem to have made the jump from disc to digital

    "Disc to digital"? Are you comparing it to the releases on analogue formats such as Laserdisc and CED [wikipedia.org]?

    Or is this just another example of the stupid and lazy misappropriation of "digital" to mean synonymous with "online" or "download" and contrast with non-online formats such as "Digital Versatile Disc" or "Compact Disc Digital-F******-Audio"? (Yes, the fact that CD was digital was one of its major selling points).

    That's kind of understandable (not forgivable, but understandable) on crappy mainstream sites written by and for people who neither know nor care as much about technology as they'd like to think. (#) OTOH, I don't think it even counts as nitpicking to expect better from a site like Slashdot which is supposed to cater- at least it used to- for actual geeks and not just boys toys' gadget fetishists who think they're geeks because it's cool now and they buy a new smartphone every 18 months.

    (#) I'd be willing to bet that despite the man-on-the-street's apparent increased familiarity and comfort with digital and electronic devices compared with 30 to 40 years ago, most people still don't understand as much about the underlying technology as this would suggest, and probably still wouldn't be able to explain what "digital" means.

  • "Additionally the BBC's high-quality disc extras do not seem to have made the jump from disc to digital, signifying possible further decline for 'value added' features such as commentaries and documentaries in the future."

    Between availability, audiovisual quality, lack of extras, and packaging I think that physical media will remain the premium choice for a long time to come. Add in the fact that there is little to no availability of 3D content on streaming services, or where there is, it's only through a h

  • So, I can buy the entire back catalogue of Blackadder and Red Dwarf? Awesome.

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