Google’s bread and butter may be search and the recession may have led Google to cut back on projects that weren’t bringing home the bacon but that doesn’t mean that Google isn’t looking to expand its already large footprint on the web.

It just announced that by the end of the year, it hopes to be offering its publishing partners the ability to sell ebooks through Google Book Search, putting it in competition with Amazon in the burgeoning ebook market.

And now The Telegraph is reporting that Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, is handling negotiations with BBC director-general to iron out an agreement that would have Google involved with an international roll-out of BBC’s iPlayer.

Currently, short-form BBC clips are available on YouTube, which is owned by Google. But the deal reportedly being negotiated would have YouTube supporting the launch of a free iPlayer service internationally, which would give users around the world access to BBC programming in its entirety.

The only thing standing in the way: licensing issues. According to a BBC spokesperson:

There are a significant number of obstacles to extending this commercially to
other countries, including international rights clearance. These obstacles
present significant difficulties and for this reason there are no firm plans for
a specific international BBC iPlayer, but audiences can watch BBC content
outside the UK through numerous BBC Worldwide content deals with online partners
such as iTunes.

Given the challenges, a BBC-Google deal to launch iPlayer globally is unlikely to happen overnight. But Google is also reportedly conducting separate discussions with BBC Worldwide about a deal that would put BBC’s archive content on YouTube. International licenses already exist for this archive content.

Needless to say, either of these deals would be good news for all parties, including consumers. For Google, these deals would also represent a continued drive to solidify its relationship with content partners, a group that it has often experienced a contentious relationship with in the past.

Photo credit: dan taylor via Flickr.