BBC iPlayer stats: 12.5 GBs per second, 14 different versions, iPhone usage peaks at midnight, and more

BBC iPlayer uncovered

BBC iPlayer uncovered

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m a huge fan of the BBC’s iPlayer; that’s why I named it as one of the top ten Digital Lifestyle products of 08.

And I’m not alone.

In a fascinating interview conducted by CNet UK’s Nate Lanxon, the BBC’s iPlayer head honcho Anthony Rose reveals that, at its peak, the service delivers 12.5 gigabytes per second of video, totaling about 7 petabytes of data transfer a month!

Other key stats…

  • While iPlayer streaming peaks at 10pm, iPhone usage is at its highest at around midnight. “So people are clearly going to bed with their iPhone and watching in bed”, says Rose. “And we also see on the weekends, there’s a peak of Saturday and Sunday morning usage at about 8 to 10am in the morning on iPhone.”
  • Over 400 hours of video is encoded a week for iPlayer using 60 servers. “They’re typically dual Quad Core Intel Xeon machines, and they run on a NAS backend architecture because the media that comes in is encoded at 50 or 100Mbps.”
  • 14+ different versions of iPlayer are encoded. “… ranging from about 160Kbps for some mobile, over-the-air streaming, through to 1,500Kbps for our highest iPlayer SD quality stream, in H.264 played out as flash. We also create 3Mbps [for standard definition] on Virgin Media, and now for our HD content we create 3.2Mbps HD. So it’s about 14 or 15 flavours.”

The interview reveals lots more iPlayer info – you should really go read the full article – including what’s next for the service (hint: scheduled downloads and series stacking etc.)


last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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