BBC spreads free Wi-Fi Cloud over iPlayer delay
Cobbles together Flash streams for Mac and Linux
The BBC has delayed the launch of its iPlayer on demand internet TV application by months. In a bid to head off criticism from Mac and Linux users, they will get access to a new ,more limited, streaming service.
In a briefing to selected press yesterday, BBC technology executives said the controversial project won't surface until Christmas.
A spokeswoman for the corporation told The Reg the delay is insignificant. "We've always said autumn or the end of the year," she said.
So far, about 250,000 people have downloaded the iPlayer, according to the BBC's figures. The target is for 500,000 by April next year.
The BBC's new-media top brass were out to trumpet a non-exclusive deal with Adobe to offer a Flash-based catch-up and live streaming, separate from the iPlayer proper. It'll be branded iPlayer, however, and run inside Safari and Firefox.
The second-string service is aimed at pacifying frustrated Mac and Linux users who are unable to watch downloaded shows because of the Windows DRM that the BBC says it is forced to use by programme makers. Open source advocates are working on an EU complaint against the iPlayer's lack of interoperability on anti-competitive grounds.
Ashley Highfield, director of future media and technology, changed tack slightly yesterday on whether the full download version will ever be available for non-Microsoft viewers. According to The Guardian* he said it was "too early to make a call" on the "cost per person reach" issue. Digital initiatives look set to avoid the sharpest edge of the cost-cutting drive being led by director general Mark Thompson, however.
"We need to get the streaming service up and look at the ratio of consumption between the services [downloads versus streaming] and then we need to look long and hard at whether we build a download service for Mac and Linux," he explained to the BBC news site.
In July he was less agnostic: "I am fundamentally committed to universality, to getting the BBC iPlayer to everyone in the UK who pays their licence fee."
The iPlayer project Public Value Test carried out by the BBC Trust, the corporation's independent watchdog, makes no mention of a streaming-based catch-up service. Executives instead "proposed to allow users of seven-day TV catch-up over the internet 13 weeks to store a programme file after downloading it to a computer". A "streaming iPlayer" wasn't in the plan.
As well as the new Flash service, yesterday's meeting revealed a marketing deal with Wi-Fi operator The Cloud. A link on The Cloud landing page will offer free access to bbc.co.uk. The operator has about 7,500 hotspots across the country.
Highfield said: "We're delighted to be partnering with The Cloud in what we hope is the first of many such partnerships across the UK. For instance, they can catch up on Strictly Come Dancing whilst having a café latte in Coffee Republic." As you do.
ISPs' fears about the iPlayer's bandwidth needs were brushed off again. "We do not believe there will be an impact on the infrastructure of the UK internet. It is more than capable of dealing with this level of demand," said Highfield.
The BBC's own version of the story is here. ®
*The Reg wasn't allowed to attend by the BBC.
Iplayer is a dissapointment, the bbc did trial opening their archives up the old grange hills etc. but I guess they have changed their minds, if this happened I finally would have felt I was getting value for money for my tv licence.
Instead as others have pointed out its more a catch up service rather then proper VOD eg. you cant decide you suddenly want to watch the entire first season of waterloo road as its more then 2 weeks old. Not only that technically its a trojan it automatically starts the p2p service which will use all your upstream bandwidth as it pleases, no scheduling, no monitoring, no control.
@ Andy B
... "With spectrum capacity severely limited on Freeview at least until 2012 we believe quite strongly that IP (internet protocol) is a great route to getting HD out to wider audience."
Surely the "director of Future Media and Technology" cannot be THAT clueless? Does he SERIOUSLY consider that HD over our current crappy up-to-8mbps-that-only-really-gives-1.5mbps-if-you-are-lucky broadband connections is workable?
More to the point, for someone who is **supposed** to understand technology, I'm absolutely amazed that he thinks HD on DTT will be available after 2012. Quite simply, unless something changes before then, the government will have sold off the bandwidth required for HD - it's quite clear that OfCom doesn't see any merit in retaining any more spectrum than is required for the current muxes for use by TV.
"*The Reg wasn't allowed to attend the briefing because we're "always horrible" to the Beeb"
Perhaps the American and Israeli Governments should take a leaf out of their book and ban the groupthinking hiveminded beeb from their press gigs...