The BBC has started using its own custom Top Level Domain (TLD). The entire BBC Online offering is available at https://the.bbc [Update March 2022 – this link no longer works, so I’ve updated it with an archive.org link]. Many large corporations such as Apple and T.K. Maxx own their own TLD, which were rumoured to cost around $185,000.
Currently the site doesn’t seem to have officially switched as some components such as video and sign-in appear to be broken, and the site’s canonical URL is still set to use the old domain. However the fact that someone has configured the new one along with its own TLS certificate might be a sign that the Beeb is thinking of switching from their iconic bbc.co.uk address.
I suspect for many Internet users of a certain age, the web address http://www.bbc.co.uk was one of the very first they diligently typed into their computer back in the late nineties. The BBC’s use of .co.uk paved the way for this TLD to become the de facto for UK-based companies. To switch now may well commence the beginning of the end for .co.uk being the standard for companies in the UK. While not every company can afford the fee for their own TLD, there are now many others, from .mortgage to .furniture to choose from. The problem is few well-known brands actually use them. Perhaps this might change soon.
For me there is something about newer TLDs that make them less likely to stand out as web site addresses. If I saw weather.bbc or visit.london written somewhere, I wouldn’t necessarily think to visit them in a web browser, whereas anything ending in .com or .co.uk etc. is obviously a web address.