Internet service providers in the United Kingdom are saying they may restrict customers’ access to the BBC’s iPlayer, the broadcaster’s new online television service, due to the higher cost of sending video over the web.
iPlayer, launched as a beta on July 27, lets you download BBC television programs from the last seven days for free.
UK service providers, such as BT and Tiscali, say the government-funded BBC should help pay for the costs directly.
ISPs in the UK, like their counterparts in the US, face increasing demands on their bandwidth capacity as more people watch television online.
Competing UK broadcasters, including ITV and Channel 4, have also launched internet television players. Startups including Joost, Babblegum and many others are trying to provide similar services on both sides of the Atlantic.
These ISPs are targeting the BBC because they think iPlayer will be the most popular internet television service in the UK, according to the Financial Times.
However, the ISPs are all also trying to figure out how to exploit demand created by these video services while offering competing services. Most large ISPs in both countries now have their own television services, according to a Jupiter Research blog — which makes their arguments appear self-interested:
So, these Internet-delivered TV offers both push up ISPs’ bandwidth and network costs, and they potentially undermine the ISPs’ own TV services. So ISPs vocally use the issue of higher costs, while ISPs are also concerned about revenue protection for their TV services.