You’ll soon be able to watch BBC iPlayer shows for a year rather than the normal 30 days, after Ofcom backed the broadcaster’s appeal to make them available for longer.

The BBC said keeping its shows online for longer would help it compete with TV-streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix. Currently, the first episode of a series is removed before all six shows are broadcast, making it impossible to watch them all in one go.

In particular, the BBC said younger viewers couldn’t understand why shows would vanish after a month when they remain online indefinitely on rival services. As a result, the iPlayer’s share of the TV-streaming market has slumped from 40 per cent to 15 per cent in the past five years.

Ofcom accepted the BBC’s argument, saying the move would “Increase choice and
availability of public-service broadcast content, and help ensure the BBC remains relevant in the face of changing viewing habits”.

It did however acknowledge that the decision would hit catch-up services that rely on adverts, such as ITV Hub and All 4, which usually allow viewers to watch shows for a maximum of 30 days after they have aired.

Ofcom also approved the BBC’s request to keep children’s programmes online for five years, creating a vast archive of shows.

The regulator’s decision is “provisional”, pending responses from affected parties, such as rival broadcasters. It aims to make a final decision in August.

In a statement, the BBC said the changes would “give viewers more value for their licence fee and mean we can better keep up with their growing expectations”.

It added: “We hope Ofcom can now confirm its decision swiftly so we can start giving licence-fee payers the BBC iPlayer they want and deserve.”


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