In a wide-ranging and lengthy interview with the European Broadcasting Union, iPlayer boss Anthony Rose has suggested that the on-demand service could be offered in different tiers for internet service providers to decide which level to offer their customers, and for how much.
In an attempt to answer the problem for ISPs of the iPlayer's 100TB a day of streaming traffic, Rose suggests that it should be down to the ISP to decide what kbps service they provide. Rose states:
"The future lies in tiered services. What we need to do is to create the iPlayer services at different quality levels and then let ISPs offer different bandwidth propositions to users".
"For example, the user who enjoys higher bandwidth connections would pay more, and those who are satisfied with lower bandwidth connections would pay less. Of course, nobody should get a worse experience than today".
"We were offering streaming initially at 500 kbit/s. Today we are also offering 800 kbit/s and in three months time we might be offering 1.5 Mbit/s".
"Some people will stay with 500 kbit/s, so they will not be able to experience our high-quality streams. If you sign up with Virgin, you will be on a 20 Mbit/s plan and you can download a film in 6 minutes, rather than in one hour if you only have a 2 Mbit/s line. So we could introduce a new scalable business model".
"For example, the user can get a good quality iPlayer service for, say, £10 a month but for £20, a much better iPlayer quality would be available".
"If we can create iPlayer in tiers, then ISPs will be able to work out how to sell that. Every content provider should create such quality tiers and then ISPs will be able to build business models around these propositions. This can lead to win-win situations and ISPs will see video services as a profit centre rather than a cost burden".
It seems it's not a suggestion that's gone down well with the industry, with many sites reporting that Rose is simply suggesting iPlayer users should be forced to pay higher broadband costs for accessing the service.
Such a move could stifle the popularity of the service that has so far seen over 300 million programme views to date.