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BBC iPlayer continues platform sluttiness with Virgin Media launch

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The BBC's streaming iPlayer is now available to three and a half million Virgin Media cable TV customers via their set top box.

The plans have been known for several weeks, and the implementation has been delivered on time by the pair. iPlayer is delivered over VM's cable TV platform rather than broadband, and is accessible via the red button.

It's iPlayer's second foray into the living room following the recent launch on Nintendo's Wii, which in turn swiftly followed the mobile launch for iPhone and iPod Touch. The VM version has been more complicated to build, involving development of a dedicated electronic programming guide and integration with the cable operator's video-on-demand systems.

It offers iPlayer's standard seven days of TV catch-up streams in full screen MPEG2 with no buffering and at higher quality than the P2P download version. Plans for high definition streams are also underway.

The investment may prove well worth it for the BBC. VM's on demand services are well used by its millions of subscribers and are currently enjoying a big marketing push courtesy of Samuel L Jackson.

Auntie would not be drawn on where it is working to bring the service to next, including other pay TV platforms such as BT Vision, Tiscali TV, and Sky. "Where technically feasible our ambition is to bring iPlayer to as many platforms as possible," a spokeswoman said.

Sky dominates UK pay TV, and the firm's chairman James Murdoch recently criticised the BBC over iPlayer, arguing that it is stifling competition and innovation in internet TV.

Satellite subscribers might not want to hold their breath for iPlayer, but stranger things have happened. ®

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