BBC Worldwide to offer programs through iTunes, but only in UK for now

bbc on itunesUnfortunately, the juiciest detail to us in the U.S. is not known.

The Register reports that BBC Worldwide will soon offer its content on iTunes, presumably through the iTunes UK store only.

The Register’s “TV industry” source says that BBC Worldwide digital media director Simon Danker has contacted the BBC’s third-party production partners to inform them of the new distribution channel.

However, The Register provided no additional details.

Rats.

At the same time, Ashley Highfield, the director of BBC Future Media and Technology, indicated on the BBC Internet Blog that the iPlayer may become available via the AppleTV set-top box. The iPlayer is the BBC’s on-demand television service that allows UK residents to watch programs broadcast in the last seven days online for free.

bbc iplayerNoting the release of AppleTV Take 2 and movie rentals becoming available on iTunes at Macworld last month, Highfield wrote it “means that we can look to getting BBC iPlayer onto this platform, too, as we should be able to use the rental functionality to allow our programmes to be downloaded, free, but retained for a time window, and then erased, as our rightsholders currently insist.”

However, Highfield provided no additional details.

Rats.

BBC Worldwide’s motivation — new revenue — is what gives me hope that its programs will soon be available through iTunes and the AppleTV in the U.S. Unless there are rights or technology snags, why not offer programming to the U.S. market?

“BBC Worldwide is under pressure from management to increase the profit it funnels back into the BBC proper from selling rights to shows,” The Register writes.

“It’s hoped Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary, will double the amount it makes from exploiting programme and other rights at home and abroad within five years.”

The BBC is also exploring new distribution with branded channels on both YouTube and MySpace.

the mighty booshWhat better way for people in the U.S. to find and sample BBC Worldwide programs, just like they found and sampled programs like “The Office” in the States?

Update: The Unofficial Apple Weblog notes that several BBC Worldwide programs are already available, including “Torchwood,” “Spooks,” “The Mighty Boosh,” “Life on Mars”, “The Catherine Tate Show,” “Two Pints of lager and a Packet of Crisps,” and “Little Britain.”

Clicking on the TUAW links, alas, only take me to iTunes, which tells me the content is not available in the U.S. store.

See also: BBC iPlayer puts rocky start behind, begins building solid user base; and Internet TV: 2007 year in review.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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