More than 60 million people around the world are bypassing internet restrictions to watch the BBC’s shows online.
New research has claimed that 65 million people from abroad watch the broadcaster’s licence-fee funded iPlayer service using proxy servers or virtual private networks, which are able to mask the location of the user.
The free catch-up TV service is meant to only be available in the UK, but in Chinaalone it is thought that there are 38.5 million people using it, with shows such as Sherlock hugely popular.
The figures emerged from research company GlobalWebIndex, which carried out research interviews with more than 47,000 people from around the globe. This included people in countries such as China, India, Japan, the US, Brazil, Germany and France.
Its report about the BBC iPlayer said: “Although the iPlayer is funded by the UK licence fee and is therefore geo-restricted to be viewable only by people resident in the country, GWI’s data shows that the service has a huge global audience – with many turning to virtual private networks (VPNs) or proxy servers in order to access the service from abroad.”
The report said that at a global level about a quarter of online adults are using VPN technology. It added that accessing “better entertainment content” was by far the most popular reason for using them.
In every country that the report surveyed 1% to 8% of online adults admitted they were using VPNs and have accessed the iPlayer.
But authors of the report sounded an upbeat note, saying the figures were “good news” for the BBC as it showed the “clear potential” to make money if it opened up access to the service and charged foreign viewers. It suggested that significant numbers of these people would be prepared to pay for the iPlayer as they already paid for other TV subscriptions.
The report comes after BBC shut the global version of the iPlayer last month having charged people to use the app in western Europe, Australia and Canada. It was claimed US pay-TV companies made a threat to pull the BBC America channel if the corporation made the app available in their country as they feared it would impact on their own audiences.
The international edition of the iPlayer had showed programmes including Top Gear, Sherlock and Doctor Who. The BBC always labelled the global service a “pilot” and as far back as 2013 the commercial arm of the broadcaster said it would be pulling it.
It had charged European users £4.30 a month, with Canadians getting it for £3.70 and Australians paying £3.80.
The domestic iPlayer is by far the most popular on-demand service in the UK, with 45% of the country’s internet users aged between 16 and 64 using it in the last month. Across the world 9% have used it in the last month, the report added.
However the report said iPlayer users still used normal linear TV for more hours a day than they did the internet.
So if we’re not eating sausages any more, what are we eating? Chicken and steak, apparently. Sales of beef have doubled since 2008, as have sales of fresh chicken. Because, unlike sausages, when you buy a chicken, you know you’re just eating a chicken.But that’s … oh, no, actually you’ve got me there. See? This is why nobody eats sausages any more. Eating a sausage is like playing a game of pass the parcel, where the prize is obesity and an inflamed liver.
Yeah, a miserable chicken that grew up being pumped full of antibiotics in the dark. And yet that’s still preferable to eating what basically amounts to a warm bag of hepatitis. Sausages are dead. Let it go.
This is a British tragedy. First sales of marmalade dropped, now sausages. What next? Top hats? Cigarettes? Look, calm down. The sausages that are still being sold are apparently some of the best quality sausages ever made. The fightback might start here.
Good, because the thought of wrapping bacon around a carrot on Christmas Day is turning my stomach. Mine too, dear friend. Mine too.
Do say: “I’ll have a full breakfast, please. Hold the chicken breast.”
Don’t say: “Next on That’s Life, a dog that can say the word ‘hepatitis.’”