The BBC has recently been talking up the importance of the iPlayer in reacting to the changing habits of viewers, and has promised both exclusive content and online premiering of shows to meet audience wants and needs.
One programme selected for such an honour was the final ever series of BBC Three’s Him & Her which debuted on iPlayer the week before its TV broadcast.
This meant those who like to watch TV on their PC or tablet, or those of us with a Smart TV or YouView box, could see the next instalment of the car-crash wedding of Paul and Laura before everyone else.
Until, that is, the TV broadcasts reached the fourth and penultimate episode when the broadcaster suddenly decided that it’d stop premiering the show online and we iPlayer viewers would have to wait an extra week to find out what happened.
The BBC used to do the same thing when previewing Spooks and Life on Mars on BBC Three and it was just as irksome then.
Presumably there’s some great season finale which the BBC is seeking to stop being widely discussed and reported before the episode is shown on traditional TV in order to avoid spoiling it for others.
But debuting only part of a series on iPlayer and then reverting to a transmission premiere does rather undermine the BBC’s claims of putting the content where the audience is.
If the broadcaster really does want “to think of BBC iPlayer as having the same status and value as a linear channel service” then it needs to respect the audience it’s seeking to attract and not dumping them part way through a run.