The BBC is bringing in a new policy that states all users have to be logged in before they are able to watch or listen to any programme on its flagship iPlayer service.
The official reason that the BBC is giving for the change is that knowing users preferences will help it to improve its service, but the obvious additional benefit for the company is that it will have a record of everyone who is using the service, and could possibly identify people using the service without having paid their licence fee.
In order to sign up for an account, you have to give an email address, a date of birth and a postcode. And that last one feels pertinent.
In an official statement the BBC’s Andrew Scott said, “The reason we’re making these changes isn’t about enforcing the licence fee – it’s about giving you a better BBC and helping you get the best out of it.”
He very shortly after added: “By matching email addresses we may be able to identify someone who has told us they don't need a TV licence while at the same time having signed in and watched iPlayer. So we will now use this alongside our existing enforcement techniques to help identify people who are watching licence fee-funded content without a licence.”
No more free lunch
For those using the iPlayer platform, this is the latest in a series of changes made by the BBC in its campaign to become the UK's leading streaming service by 2020.
Following a governmental change in September 2016, a TV license was required to watch 'catch-up' footage. Up until that point, a TV license had only been a requirement if you were watching live content.
With streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, there has been a shift towards a on-demand mentality with content, so it would make sense for the BBC to want to move towards more strictly monetising its on-demand service.
Considering the high quality programming across the vast range of television and TV services that the TV license covers, £147 per year doesn’t feel like a big sum to pay, but of course if you are already paying for numerous other services and have been getting this one for nothing (even if you shouldn’t have been) another £147 suddenly feels like quite a lot.
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Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.