By Mark Sweney: BBC Worldwide is to make its first foray into pay-to-play gaming linked to TV programming with an online version of The Weakest Link.
The move marks a toe in the water for BBC Worldwide in its bid to open up new revenue streams as it faces a loss of income from having to hive off part of its magazines while delivering on a promise for profits to hit £200m by 2012.
Last month BBC director general Mark Thompson revealed that the operation will record profits of about £140m in the year to the end of March, up from £103m the year before, with official figures to be published in about two weeks.
BBC Worldwide, which already offers a free version of the Anne Robinson-fronted BBC knockout quiz, will now charge players a variety of amounts from as little as £1 to play. BBC Worldwide has teamed up with Amuso.com, the two-year old venture backed by investors behind Skype and Joost, which has signed doctor-turned-comedy writer Fintan Coyle who co-founded Weakest Link to be a strategic advisor.
The BBC intends to promote the new pay-to-play game at the end of its terrestrial broadcast of Weakest Link.
The BBC claims that there are online protection systems to try to avoid under-18s signing up and gambling. If any player makes more than a £50 deposit the game asks for identity validation through a scanned copy of a driver’s licence or passport. And, rather tamely, players are asked to register a birthdate during registration. Apparently a paid-for check using the 192 verification service backs up name, address and birth date details.
“BBC Worldwide is always keen to extend a brand beyond the traditional use, and social gaming is one of great interest to us,” said Robert Nashak, executive vice president of digital entertainment at BBC Worldwide.
This article originally appeared in Â© Guardian News & Media Ltd..