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BBC to launch iPlayer for Wii

The Apprentice tops the charts

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The BBC is set to launch a version of its popular streaming iPlayer catch-up service for Nintendo Wii owners in the UK today.

The first games console release for iPlayer is being unveiled at a media conference in Cannes. It comes just over a month after Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch became the first mobile devices to get access to most of the last seven days of BBC broadcasts. Wii owners were among the most vocal when iPlayer boss Anthony Rose then issued a call for suggestions on which platforms to prioritise.

The BBC said gamers who have hooked the machine up to their broadband line will get an alert as soon as the service goes live today. Selecting iPlayer from the main menu will give them access to shows via the console's Opera-based browser.

The partnership with Nintendo marks the first time the iPlayer will appear in mainstream living rooms. A version of the service for Virgin Media cable set-top boxes is also imminent, however.

Eric Huggers, the BBC's future media and technology group controller, said today's launch underlines the corporation's commitment to bring the iPlayer to as many devices as possible.

"The BBC's catch-up TV service can now be accessed on an increasing number of different platforms – from the web and portable devices to gaming consoles," he said.

What bringing the iPlayer to ever more devices and pushing ever more data down choking broadband lines will do to the BBC's already difficult relationship with ISPs is another matter.

Separately today, the BBC released new iPlayer usage figures. Since its Christmas Day marketing launch, iPlayer has seen about 25 per cent month-on-month growth. In March 17.2 million requests were made by an average of 1.1 million weekly users.

The crown of most streamed show in the first three months went to the first episode of season four of The Apprentice. No updated figures were released on what proportion of requests came via the P2P download application. At the last count it accounted for just one ninth of iPlayer usage.

Perhaps feeling a little defensive, BBC technology chief Ashley Highfeld said: "[The] initial performance proves the case not only for BBC iPlayer, but for all video on demand services over the internet, and benefits both our audiences and the industry as a whole.

"We continue to work closely with the internet service providers with a view to driving the next generation of broadband internet access." ®

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