Feeds

Beeb pushes major new iPlayer release

Big on HD, if your computer is beefy enough

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The BBC has made a host of major changes to the iPlayer today, by making some of its programmes available in High Definition (HD) and ending use of its clunky peer-to-peer technology.

The Corporation’s future media and technology controller Anthony Rose said the release was the most significant of its kind since iPlayer launched in July 2007.

He said the Beeb had improved video quality on the entire service to a new standard definition (SD) 1500Kbps stream.

“Finally, BBC programmes should look as good on your computer as they do on your TV, even if you don't choose the HD option,” said Rose, who added that selecting the new large video window size in iPlayer will make it automatically switch to the new video format.

Additionally, programmes downloaded using iPlayer Desktop will use the new format.

The Beeb has also slightly improved its default video quality so that its current High Quality (800Kbps H.264) format is now used in the smaller video playback window size.

“For programmes without fast movement played back on a small computer screen, the quality of that 800Kbps format is pretty good, which means that as of today our baseline video quality takes a big step up,” explained Rose.

However, to benefit from HD, which has a 1280x720 pixel resolution and encoding bitrate of 3.2Mbps, Rose admits that users will need speedy broadband connections and fast PCs with a beefy graphics card.

The iPlayer now also comes with adaptive bitrate technology, which tests connection speeds to allow users to work out what video quality they can watch over their broadband service.

“In this first phase of our adaptive bitrate system, once iPlayer has dropped down to a lower bandwidth stream it will stay with that lower bandwidth version for the rest of the programme you're watching,” said Rose.

“Over the coming months we'll enhance that behaviour to allow iPlayer to automatically ramp up and down between available versions every few seconds to match your available bandwidth.”

Users on bandwidth-capped web connections, or who simply want to override the adaptive bitrate system and use the Beeb’s lowest bandwidth (500Kbps) stream, can now do so by using a new option added to the service.

The Beeb officially unwrapped its cross platform desktop download manager today, which plays nicely with Windows, Linux and Mac. It was actually launched in December as part of the Corporation’s Labs testing programme, but it's now been taken out of beta.

"As of today, we're no longer using P2P to distribute our content, or use your upload bandwidth - all content is now either streaming or direct HTTP download from our servers," said Rose.

He advised that users on the BBC's existing iPlayer Download Manager should now switch to iPlayer Desktop and remove iPlayer Download Manager.

However, he warns that such a move won't entirely strip out all the components of its P2P technology because rival services such as Sky Player and 4OD share some Kontiki tech in their own download managers. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.