Later today, a version of the BBC’s iPlayer will be made available on Nintendo’s Wii games console, announced the UK public broadcaster’s Future Media and Technology chief Erik Huggers during a keynote speech at the MipTV-Milia conference in Cannes.
Alongside download (Windows-only) and streaming versions (Windows/Mac) accessible via a computer, the BBC has already built a version of its UK-only TV catch-up service for Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch devices. Today, however, marks the first time the iPlayer will be available on a games console, and perhaps surprisingly, not one designed specifically to be a media center. So much for the ‘trojan horse into the living room’ strategies of Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s XBox 360.
The ability to port the streaming version of iPlayer to the Wii was made possible because of Nintendo’s original decision to offer a Web browser for the console, and one that supports Flash Video (see last100’s ‘Five resources to create a Wii media center‘). The PS3 also features a full Web browser with the Flash plug-in, so perhaps we can expect that to be next on the list.
Initially, iPlayer on Wii will be accessible via the game console’s Internet channel, just like any other Website. However, signaling that this is an official partnership between the BBC and Nintendo, the latter will send out a message to all UK Wii owners whose consoles are connected to the Internet, alerting them to the iPlayer’s availability. The BBC and Nintendo intend to refine the Wii version of iPlayer throughout the rest of 2008, eventually offering the catch-up service through its own dedicated Wii channel.
On the same day as the Wii version was announced, the BBC released the latest iPlayer viewing figures, which, inevitably, was preempted by the latest ISP backlash against the service due to its high bandwidth consumption.
In March 2008, more than 17.2 million requests to download or stream BBC programmes were made via the iPlayer. This is up 25% on the previous month and means more than 42 million programmes have been accessed via the iPlayer since its Christmas 2007 launch. (BBC News)