Shadow and Act frequently shines a light on cinema and television programs of the African diaspora that are sometimes exclusively available to readers in the U.K. There have been many times when even I have wondered, “Man, I’d love to watch that program– why can’t we get that here?!!”

Well, if BBC Worldwide has anything to say about it, 2011 may be the year that all changes. You see, the BBC already offers an iPad application to its home viewers that allows them to watch network content (TV shows, movies, etc.) with their iPad. It’s an app that’s exclusive to subscribers in the U.K. But here’s where the story gets interesting.

As reported by, BBC Worldwide announced that in July 2011 it would be “launching its global iPlayer service . . . , via an iPad app that will be made available in 11 countries in Western Europe. The US, Canada and Australia will follow later this year, as part of what is intended to be a one-year pilot.”

Why would the BBC do this now, after decades of teasing us with a handful of programming that was usually only seen on PBS or BBC America?

“We think we have a load of unmet demand for BBC and British content internationally,” said managing director Luke Bradley-Jones.

“This is not a catch-up service: this is a video-on-demand service. We will have content from the last month, but also the best from the catalogue stretching back 50 to 60 years.”

Maybe you’re telling yourself, “If I had known about this, I wouldn’t have chosen an Android tablet over the iPad.” Don’t worry; there may be hope for you yet . . .

“Apple’s iPad currently takes the lion’s share of the tablet market, which was also a key factor in BBC Worldwide’s decision. However, if Android tablets become more popular during the year-long pilot period, Bradley-Jones expects to port the global iPlayer app across then. For now, the global iPlayer will not be available as a desktop web service.”

If you’re thinking to yourself, “But what about the programs I’ve read about that didn’t necessarily air on BBC?!!”, then don’t fret . . .

“At launch, 60% of the global iPlayer content has been produced and commissioned by the BBC, while 30% has been commissioned by the BBC but produced by independents. The other 10% is entirely non-BBC content, including ITV’s Primeval, and Channel 4’s The Naked Chef and Misfits.”

“We see this as a best-of-British proposition,” said Bradley-Jones. “If we get this right, it’s a very exciting opportunity to provide a window onto our world: the cultural and entertainment space in Britain. To do that well, it can’t be just BBC content. We really hope it will be a much broader church.”

So, I’ve got you interested, but now you’re wondering how much this is going to set you back? According to BBC Worldwide . . .

“Bradley-Jones said that the cost of Hulu and Netflix subscriptions was one of the factors in deciding how much to charge for the global iPlayer – which hints that when it does launch in the US, it will be around the $7.99 mark.”

So, there you have it. The opportunity to keep up with what’s been entertaining some of the rest of the world should be in the palms of our hands shortly. Some of the shows and films we thought we’d never see will be available to us, 24/7– and at a considerably reasonable cost. Will you be one of the many who are likely to take advantage of the opportunity? Will you be going Global?