Focusing on the case of the BBC iPlayer and placing it within broader national and international developments, this article assesses key challenges that public service broadcasting (PSB) faces in the era of online TV. The advent of subscription video-ondemand (SVoD) and associated market transformations have accentuated preexisting funding, political, and market pressures on PSB. Still, the relationship between PSB and SVoD is not purely antagonistic. The evolution of the BBC iPlayer in this wider context shows that online TV does not (as yet) represent a radical new interpretation of PSB because VoD services are closely linked to linear offerings, and there is evidence of the fluidity between online and broadcast spheres, and the continued relevance of television. Against an increasingly commercial, fragmented, closed, and data-driven environment, the article makes the case for supporting PSB VoD services and explores how online TV might help revive PSB through personalization and public service algorithms. Media policy can play an enabling role by addressing data practices, algorithms, and prominence.
Keywords: public service broadcasting (PSB), BBC iPlayer, video-on-demand (VoD), online TV, media policy, personalization, public service algorithms, prominence