It’s now been over 10 year since I’ve owned a TV. Somewhere along the way I just fell out of the habit. Occasionally I’ll binge watch a series on DVD, and when there’s live sports I want to see (World and Euro cups, and the occasional Champions League match) I’ll go to a pub which I always found more enjoyable than watching at home. In the last few years I’ve also gotten into the habit of watching BBC on the iplayer.

People who don’t have access to it perhaps don’t get how good the iplayer is. It’s a great user experience that just works and the selection is very good.

That’s all good if I want to watch English content. I’d love to watch more German programming, especially with my son, with whom I only speak German. I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of content licensing, and I know it’s an area that people who do know say is struggling to grasp with the realities of the internet, but I don’t understand several things:

  • Why does the BBC not allow people outside the UK to pay a fee to access the iplayer and it’s content? This would immediately be a multi-million pound revenue stream.  
  • Why does the BBC not license their excellent technical platform to other state owned broadcasters? I wish ARD and ZDF had anything close to as good technically as the BBC. Why does every country in Europe have to invent this themselves?
  • Why can I not watch ARTE in the UK? I will gladly pay  roughly the amount of the BBC annual license fee to be able to do so.
  • Why does the BBC limit what is available on the iplayer to the last few shows? Why not let me browse the entire catalog? If you like create a tiered system - recent stuff is free, for the archives you need to become a premium subscriber. Who does it benefit to have it hidden away?

I honestly don’t understand what is holding all this back? If you are the operator of these networks, why not broaden your audience? The tools for billing and such exist. The cost of operating it would be negligible. Why are some shows able to do it. Why can I watch German news in the UK no problem, but not documentaries? Why can my son and I watch Sesamstrasse but not other kids shows?

I’m baffled.