The BBC is circulating a business plan for Project Barcelona as it looks to launch its premium download-to-own portal this year.
The service, which will allow users to pay a small fee to download and keep programmes from recent and deep archive, has been given the strapline “making the unmissable, unmissable forever” – a twist on the sub-heading of the BBC’s other digital platform, iPlayer.
Broadcast has learned that the corporation is hoping to introduce a clause in its next Terms of Trade that means all BBC commissions will be available via Barcelona as standard.
The agreement will be for non-exclusive DTO rights, but that could be problematic in terms of undermining DVD advances. Drama and comedy outfits are particularly at risk, but the issue is one the BBC is keen to resolve.
One source said: “It’s the BBC’s ambition to have everyone signed up, but it’s by no means a done deal.
“Resolving this DVD issue is tough, but if it is sorted out, it will be a win-win for everyone: viewers will have access to programmes they couldn’t otherwise see; and producers will be getting access to revenues that the market isn’t interested in yet.”
The Project Barcelona proposals are understood to include sliding-scale price points and potential profits for rights holders, and those close to negotiations have indicated that the figures are persuasive.
Although it was originally described as a not-for-profit exercise, Broadcast now understands the BBC will also make a profit out of the initiative, which it will feed back into its programming budget once seed money for rights clearance and other launch costs have been paid back.
The BBC is mulling whether to create a new subsidiary to manage the portal, which would operate in a similarly distinct manner to its other subsidiaries: BBC Studios & Post Production and BBC Worldwide.
The portal itself will comprise sophisticated algorithms that will recommend shows based on previous downloads. It is thought social media will also be incorporated.
The BBC executive is in talks with the Trust over Barcelona, although no formal application has been submitted yet. The corporation is thought to be confident it will get the greenlight in time to launch this side of Christmas. However, the Trust has taken more than six months to approve previous initiatives, such as YouView – then called Project Canvas.
The BBC declined to answer specific questions, but a spokeswoman said: “The BBC is developing Project Barcelona together with the industry and programme-makers, and we are examining a range of options.
“Discussions are ongoing and final decisions have not yet been reached. Any proposals are subject to approval by the BBC Executive and Trust.”
This story was originally published by Broadcast.