The ABC is set to offer consumers the ability to access their favourite programs to buy on iTunes once the”catch up window” has expired on its iView service, from next year.
Director of television for the ABC Richard Finlayson described the service, which was announced as part of the programming line-up announcements for 2015, as an “Australian TV first”, with the broadcaster set to take a percentage of each purchase.
He said: “The digital revolution steps up a gear in 2015 and our commitment to Australian stories, on the ABC for free. However, in an Australian TV industry first in the first quarter of next year Australian users will have the ability to buy and download current series of ABC classics without leaving the iView application.”
The move was first announced during last year’s Upfronts, with Finlayson saying it was being driven by consumer demand to access content even after it has passed the expiry window of its catch-up rights a period, usually two to four weeks.
“We are excited about this,” he said. “We think it will do really well and it comes from overwhelming audience feedback that we get. A lot of people don’t understand how the catch up rights windows work and they are disappointed when their favourite programs disappear from iView after two weeks.
“We are calling it link to buy and what it does in a word is it enables you within the iView environment to purchase programs which are outside the free window.
“For example, if you are watching the next season of (drama series) Rake next year then you can go back and buy all the previous seasons or individual episodes.”
The ABC TV boss said the new feature had been created in conjunction with Apple’s iTunes store and would see the broadcaster open up most of its back library for content already in iView.
“This will be really significant, we will make sure that all of the programs available for catch up are also available for download,” he said.
“This integrates with iTunes. We have been working with iTunes to create this interface – which is basically the frictionless embedding of iTunes within the iView environment.
“It will allow you with a few small number of clients to buy individual episodes or whole series to your iTunes account.”
On the issue of whether the new initiative meant that the ABC was further competing with its commercial rivals Finlayson said he expected the venture to be a profitable one for ABC Commercial, but that it would also have benefits for the Australian production industry.
“We hope this venture will be a success for ABC Commercial, our commercial division, and that enables us to return more proceeds to producers and ultimately to create more Australian content.”
The ABC claims iView is Australia’s most popular online TV streaming service with more than 20m program plays across the website and apps each month, a figure which is up 25 per cent on last year.