BBC to appoint iPlayer controller

iplayer ipadBBC director of television Danny Cohen is set to hire a controller of iPlayer, in a bid to establish the BBC’s online catch-up service as a “fifth channel.”

Announcing the newly created role at a Royal Television Society event last night, Cohen said he wanted to position the iPlayer in a similar way to the BBC’s main linear networks – BBC1, BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4.

“BBC iPlayer is an increasingly important part of the way viewers enjoy our content. From now on I want us to think of BBC iPlayer as having the same status and value as a linear channel service. In essence, it becomes our fifth channel, creating and sharing content alongside our linear services,” said Cohen.

The iPlayer controller role will be advertised in “due course”, said a spokesman for the BBC, with the new hire to take overall charge of exclusive online content planned for BBC iPlayer.

This will range from short-form programming, to improved curation of content and premieres of BBC shows ahead of their transmission on the BBC’s linear channels. The iPlayer controller will report directly to Cohen.

News of the appointment comes a week after BBC director general Tony Hall outlined plans for an enhanced iPlayer as part of his vision for the BBC’s digital future.

This will include a 30-day catch-up window, subject to approval by the BBC Trust, iPlayer-only curated content and channels, and “the chance for users to be the scheduler by accessing content before broadcast at times that suit them,” said Hall.

He also announced plans for a new BBC Store would allow viewers to buy, watch and keep a selection of BBC programmes.

The new iPlayer controller will join BBC1 controller Charlotte More, BBC2 and BBC4 controller Janice Hadlow, and BBC3 controller Zai Bennett.

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