It's a familiar story most people can associate themselves with. You work late, get caught in traffic or whatever. Regardless, the end result is you forgot to set your TiVo/VCR/DVR and missed your favorite TV show. Typically, when the average British P2Per falls into this category and misses the latest "EastEnders" episode, the typical resolution is hop on Usenet, BitTorrent or eDonkey2000 and download the show - if possible.
Missing "EastEnders" is bad enough, but finding out no one posted the show is even worse. So now you've been stuck in traffic for 2 hours, missed your favorite TV show and now you can't even download it to mitigate an already bad day.
What recourse is left?
If you're a fan of British programming and live in the United Kingdom, the BBC is continuing what they hope will be the iTunes for TV show distribution. Although the initiative is still in the testing phase, it is now being opened to 5,000 UK citizens. Participants will be able use the pilot P2P application, dubbed "interactive Media Player (iMP)" to download select BBC programming.
The effort is part of a larger attempt to stem the growing tide of TV show downloading on P2P networks. According to recent studies, the UK leads the world in TV show downing - something the TV studios fear may cut into their revenue stream.
The BBC initiated the program on a limited scale during the summer of 2004. The purpose of the initial testing was to gauge the plausibility of incorporating DRM (Digital Rights Management) into the distribution files. By all accounts, the tests were successful, as the program has significantly widened its scope - by population and media type.
"As part of the next phase of iMP's development, the BBC will now open up more of its radio and TV schedule - around 190 hours of TV programmes and 310 hours of radio programmes, as well as local programming and rights-cleared feature films"
Programming available on the BBC's P2P network will be protected with DRM software. The files availabe on the network will only exist for seven days after transmission. For example if a show airs on Monday, it will only last until the following Monday. Even if the file is downloaded well after its airtime, say the following Sunday, the file will only exist for one more day. Other DRM policies have been incorporated, such as restricting individuals from copying, distributing, emailing or staring at the file for too long. In addition, "Geo-IP technology to restrict iMP to UK Internet users only."
Testing for the BBC's new P2P network (technical assistance provided by Siemens Business Services, BBC Broadcast and Kontiki Inc.) will begin in September and last until December of 2005. The press release made no indication of what cost, if any, the final product will have.