Speaking at the Edinburgh television festival this weekend, director general Mark Thompson announced the corporation's plans to develop My BBC Player - a search engine that will allow computer users to find and download programmes. It will also offer live streams of BBC channels.
The concept puts the BBC into direct competition with Yahoo, which is developing a similar idea. The corporation already has a working model for the technology in the form of its interactive Media Player (iMP), which is undergoing public trials this month.
Initially the My BBC player would be used to search through and watch BBC content, but the corporation's new media developers want it to become the technology of choice, so that other channels will want to make their content available for download, as well as streaming their channels through the player.
It is already working with the Digital Living Network Alliance - a group which includes Microsoft, Nokia and Sony - to make sure its player is compatible with the widest possible range of technologies.
In order to make the idea work, the BBC must change its ethos on letting users pay for content, and in his speech to the conference Thompson said he wanted to address the corporation's "cordon sanitaire" around e-commerce.