Good news for film buffs: the British Film Institute is launching its own video on demand service, the imaginatively-named BFI Player.
Where the BBC iPlayer has transformed broadcasting, says BFI Chair Greg Dyke, "The BFI Player has the potential to do the same for film – all across the UK."
Launching on 9 October, the BFI Player will deliver a mix of free and paid video-on-demand programming, drawn from new BFI-funded film and the BFI archive. The BFI's remit covers everything from obscure documentaries to archive restoration to doling out Lottery money to mainstream and arthouse cinema – chances are, if you've watched a British film recently, the BFI has contributed to the pot. Which means that it should be making its way onto the BFI Player.
The Epic of Everest
On launch, programming will be organised into seven collections. BFI London Film Festival Presents will offer highlights and behind-the-scenes access from the festival, while Backed By the BFI will showcase contemporary films made with BFI funding.
Gothic will feature films from the BFI's recent Gothic season, Edwardian Britain will make available all 28 hours of the recently recovered Mitchell & Kenyon films from the early 20th century, and Sight & Sound Selects will feature films curated by the infamous film magazine.
A Cult Cinema collection will feature "weird and wonderful" films drawn from the BFI's Flipside strand, while Inside Film will serve up documentaries and interviews about film-making.
The price is right
The Selfish Giant
Like other VoD services, the BFI Player will use adaptive bitrate streaming to optimise your video quality, and will pack its content with DRM. Not that the BFI's worried about piracy. "It's my belief that the more legitimate services you offer people, the less they need to pirate," says BFI director of digital Ed Humphrey. "I think by standing on the edge and tutting, we wouldn't be helping anyone, but actually by making as much content as possible available in a legitimate way, you offer people the opportunity to consume in a legitimate way. That's certainly our guiding principle."
Films will be priced at £2.50 for SD rental and £3.50 for HD, with shorts priced at £1. Day-and-date releases of new films – including the upcoming The Selfish Giant and The Epic of Everest – will cost £10. While the BFI Player will initially only be available through a browser, the BFI is looking at bringing out an app-based alternative.