Beeb's iPlayer reaps streaming traffic dividends
Viewers skip swarms to join streams
The BBC's Flash-based streaming service has gifted a massive traffic boost to the iPlayer site since it went live in mid-December, independent figures have revealed.
Traffic analysis firm Hitwise reports that in the five weeks beginning 2 December, iPlayer visits rocketed 14 times over. Flash streaming launched 13 December, and the iPlayer marketing blitz began on Christmas day.
It's a remarkable turnaround for a project that was floundering a few months back. The DRM-timebombed and buggy P2P version limped into the limelight in summer 2007 after years of troubled development.
It had attracted consternation from Apple, Linux and Windows Firefox users, who were shut out by the use of Microsoft DRM, despite being the people most likely to be early adopters of new net services.
Swiftly cobbled together in response, the Flash version emerged slicker and faster. It's also more friendly to both average punters and tech-savvy viewers, who don't want their bandwidth chomped by Kontiki, the always-on P2P platform behind the download iPlayer (though this has recently been updated to switch off when the client is closed).
We've written at length on why the desktop client is a non-starter for the mass market. With the case for streaming now proven, the BBC would do well to silence the interoperablity grumbles for good by killing it off. ®
Some Reg correspondents have observed with frustration that the popular Top Gear in Alabama episode being used by the iPlayer's "making the unmissable, unmissable" marketing isn't actually available on the service. iPlayer is the "free" seven-day catch-up end of the BBC's on demand ambitions. Any longer after broadcast and law-abiding licence fee payers must buy DVDs, or wait for Project Kangaroo, the upcoming internet collaboration with ITV and Channel 4, which will charge and carry adverts.
A search for the show pulls up the message: "You may have seen the Top Gear BBC iPlayer launch trail on TV. As Top Gear is currently not available on BBC iPlayer we have chosen another unmissable moment from the series for you to enjoy."
"The BBC's Flash-based streaming service has gifted a massive [14x] traffic boost to the iPlayer site since it went live in mid-December, independent figures have revealed."
So you're seriously claiming that the streaming version being launched led to the traffic to the iPlayer website going up by 14x??
Why do you think TV advertising campaigns cost millions and millions of pounds? It's because TV advertising campaigns multiply sales - it is not an excuse for the advertisers to donate money to ITV et al. The spike in traffic to the iPlayer website will have been almost completely due to the TV advertising blitz over Xmas. If the streaming version had launched before Xmas and there had been no TV adverts the traffic to the iPlayer website would have hardly gone up at all.
Also, do you actually use the streaming version of the iPlayer? I've found that it buffers so badly that it's unusable at peak times. And there's nothing wrong with my Internet connection, because to check that it's okay when the iPlayer is unusable I've tried downloading from a fast server and it manages to download at about 6 to 7 Mbps.
"We've written at length on why the desktop client is a non-starter for the mass market. With the case for streaming now proven, the BBC would do well to silence the interoperablity grumbles for good by killing it off."
So you think it's a good idea to kill off the download version that provides higher picture and audio quality than the streaming version, works perfectly well, by definition has no problems with buffering, will scale well as more people use the iPlayer, and is likely to carry HD content in future? And in its place you want the BBC to only use a streaming version that suffers horrendously from buffering problems, scales abysmally due to it using unicasting (and cannot use multicasting), provides poor picture and audio quality and will probably be able to carry HD content by about 2046 once the BBC can afford the Internet bandwidth required? Good call.
That iPlayer's a bit demanding !!! 20gb of disk space required ???? Surely not.
Re: But still the BBC don't listen
"Because Adobe do not and will not provide a 64bit flash plugin for linux."
I'm on a 64 bit Linux system and have adobe flash working fine. The trick is to run a 32 bit version of firefox, in fact I've removed the 64 bit version so I can run flash, java, mplayer (for quicktime and wmv) and all the other 32 bit plugins.
There is also a tool to allow 32 bit plugins to run under a 64bit firefox but I can't see the point at the moment. I'm not sure why I would need a 64 bit web browser.
Flash movies are an excellent way for the BBC to stream content as it does run on most platforms.