BBC’s From the Archive brings a Netflix-style library to iPlayer

Despite having decades of fantastic original programming under its belt, the BBC has never made it particularly easy for its viewers to access it all. 

If the series you wanted to watch wasn’t a recent broadcast or one of the limited number of older shows available to watch on the catch-up oriented iPlayer, you pretty much had to purchase a digital download or DVD, or pray that third-party streaming services such as Netflix had picked it up. 

Now, however, the BBC has finally decided to draw fans of its programs away from the scraps strewn across the web with a brand new iPlayer category called From the Archive.

Keeping up with the competition

Launching September 25, this new section on iPlayer will be the place to go to for classic BBC series. There’ll be 450 titles at launch but the broadcaster has promised to add more over the coming years, at no additional cost to the licence fee payer.

Right now you’ll find content such as Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekend series, a collection of the early work of David Attenborough and you’ll be able to revisit classic interviews conducted by BBC entertainment stars like Michael Parkinson and the late Terry Wogan. 

The BBC has also said that it’ll also be possible to access footage that “hasn't been shown since first broadcast,” including the Great War Interviews, a series of conversations filmed in the 1960s with World War One veterans. Though these interviews were available on the BBC website before now, bringing them directly into iPlayer makes them far more accessible to a much wider audience. 

From the Archive is arguably a natural and sensible direction for the BBC to go in following the closure of its digital store earlier this year. While the BBC Store put the same emphasis on accessing classic BBC programming, it didn’t seem to anticipate that most of its viewers preferred the convenience of streaming content to digitally purchasing and downloading it. 

With Amazon and Netflix drawing in viewers (and even offering some of the most popular series from the BBC’s own back catalog) this large streaming library will be essential for the broadcaster to remain competitive. 

At the beginning of this year BBC committed to re-inventing iPlayer by 2020 in an effort to become the UK's biggest streaming service. With From the Archive, it looks like we're seeing the early stages of this attempt. 

You can see the new From the Archive section for yourself right here

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.