BBC Worldwide to use Facebook Credits for Doctor Who rentals

BBC Worldwide is to make its flagship series Doctor Who available to ’rent’ on Facebook – a first for the broadcaster.

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The commercial arm of the BBC will launch digitally-remastered archive Doctor Who shows, including Tomb of the Cyberman, and End of the World, on Facebook, using the social network’s credits payment system.

The broadcaster has selected a total of nine stories, taken from a range of different series, and bundled them in a way that lets Facebook users follow specific storylines, rather than view entire series.

From today (12 July), visitors to the official Doctor Who page can watch a selection of episodes from the Doctor Who archive, along with recent episodes from the latest series. The broadcaster is also launching a four-episode story The Greatest Show in the Galaxy exclusively on Facebook, having never released a DVD version.

A BBC spokesman says it’s now considering how to roll out the same system for other show brands including Top Gear and its natural history shows.

Viewers can buy 15 Facebook credits for 93p, for which they will receive access to one story, which is the equivalent to three-five episodes for 48 hours. They also have the option to buy in bundles – so they can buy all nine stories at once for £8.37. People will be able to ’rent’ the episodes on Facebook in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

BBC Worldwide CEO John Smith says the move was triggered by demand from its Facebook fans, which total 11.8m across its Doctor Who and Top Gear pages. “Our approach to Facebook and other leading edge platforms is to be right there alongside them in fostering innovation. We see this service as a perfect way to give our fans what they want, as well as a great way for them to get their fix between now and the autumn when Series Six continues,” he says.

Facebook’s director of platform partnerships Christian Hernandez says: “Millions of people engage with their favourite TV shows on Facebook every day and we’re now seeing broadcasters look at innovative ways to use Facebook tools to connect their fans with exclusive content.”

BBC Worldwide has leapfrogged other commercial broadcasters, which are still developing Facebook strategies. Channel 5 is in the process of developing a Facebook voting app which lets viewers of its reality show Big Brother vote for the contestant they want to leave the house using the social network’s Credits payment system. Meanwhile ITV is also exploring ways to incorporate Facebook Credits and voting into its own TV show brands.

Earlier today, BBC Worldwide has also revealed a 10% hike in its annual profits to £160.2m in the year to the end of March. Digital ad sales across online and mobile netted a 8.1% of total net sales – a figure BBC Worldwide said ensures it’s on track to reach its target of making digital ad sales account for 10% of its overall income. In the US ad sales across its flagship  online property BBC.com rose 113% year-on-year. Overall revenue increased 7.8% year-on-year to £1.16bn in the year to March 2011.

This story first appeared on New Media Age. For more digital stories and analysis from NMA click here now

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