Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

Internet TV: 10 UK on-demand and live video offerings compared

Last time we surveyed the UK’s live and on-demand Internet TV landscape (back in July 07), it was a bare-bones affair. The BBC’s iPlayer was Windows-only and hadn’t yet launched out of private beta, while rival broadcaster offerings were lacking content and, like the iPlayer itself, crippled by DRM and the need to install additional and sometimes conflicting software.

How things have changed.

Today, TV watching Brits are spoilt with choice when it comes to live and on-demand online from the 6 main UK broadcasters, along with a number of aggregators, including the newly launched SeeSaw, the closest yet to the US Hulu.

Read on for our full guide:

1. BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayerBBC iPlayer has the most helpfully laid out video on demand site in the UK. However, the newer version of the site (currently on show at adds to this with an impressive new design. As ever, there is access to a TV schedule so you can find what was on when, for each channel.

The front page of the site has a small section that displayes featured programmes in each genre. However, clicking the “Show All” button takes you to a full listing for that genre. Down the side category pages are a list of all categories, which when clicked expand to show a list of sub-categories, and how many programmes are in each. Each of these pages have options to list programmes by how recently they were broadcast, or as a full A-Z list.

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Zattoo turns off BBC streams, could TVCatchup be forced to do the same?

Following a request from the public broadcaster, Internet TV app Zattoo has stopped carrying the BBC’s content.

Although only available to viewers in the UK, Zattoo was able to live stream all of the BBC channels because, it argued, of what is effectively a legal loophole.

From our previous coverage:

Because each channel carries a public service remit, under section 73 of the UK Copyright Act, cable operators can re-transmit broadcasts live and uninterrupted without first seeking permission. Zattoo is effectively piggybacking the existing cable television provision.

Interestingly, along with pressure from the Beeb, Zattoo tells paidContent that it also paves the way for the service to launch a browser-based version alongside its existing desktop client. So in that sense, it may be partly a commercial decision, as presumably Zattoo doesn’t feel its legal defense holds enough water when competing with the BBC’s own browser-based iPlayer.

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Review: SeeSaw bouncing between back-catalogue and catch-up TV

SeeSaw front pageSeesaw is a UK-only video on demand service, which has its origins in the ill-fated Project Kangaroo, whose technology was bought up by transmission company Arqiva. The service was launched with new branding as “SeeSaw”.

SeeSaw’s revenue currently comes from unskippable advertising that appears before and in the middle of programmes. However, premium content is said to be coming to SeeSaw later in the year. SeeSaw is limited to residents of the UK only, but on their FAQ pages, they state that viewers do not need a TV license.

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No native iPhone BBC iPlayer app – yet (blame PowerPoint)


In case you didn’t hate PowerPoint presentations enough already, here’s another reason. The native iPhone app for iPlayer – the BBC’s TV catchup service – was a mockup. It doesn’t actually exist outside of PowerPoint, reports Macworld UK.

BBC blogger Nick Reynolds has responded to speculation based on a press pack issued by the Beeb which appeared to feature images of the app by saying that “the images are old images and should not be taken to mean that anything is likely to happen soon. Since the images seem to have provoked unnecessary speculation we’ll probably update the pack later today and remove them.”

So there you have it, no iPlayer app for iPhone – yet.

Or presumably anytime soon.

BBC iPlayer downloads coming to iPhone?

iPlayer-iPhoneIt looks like a proper iPlayer app for the iPhone (and iPod touch) is on its way. A recent press pack issued by the BBC includes images of a dedicated iPhone app for the TV catchup service.

Of most interest is that unlike the current browser-based offering for Apple’s iconic smartphone it appears that the new app will support both streaming and downloads. This was thought to be near-impossible given the iPhone’s lack of support for any ‘standard’ form of copy-protection, a necessary evil given the way the Beeb licenses third-party content, and will bring it in-line with existing versions of iPlayer for Symbian and Windows Mobile.

As it stands, when asked to recommend a smartphone I usually try to ascertain if iPlayer support is a priority. If it is, and downloads are in particular (better battery life, off-line playback), I’ll more often than not point them towards a Nokia.

Soon that may no longer be the case.

BBC iPlayer and the Creative Zen X-Fi

BBC iPlayer on the Creative Zen X-Fi

BBC iPlayer on the Creative Zen X-Fi

Yesterday, I was out tech shopping with a friend and a simple brief. Purchase a 4-8 GB flash-based MP3 player, and one that wasn’t an iPod. What we came away with was the Creative Zen X-Fi, which isn’t the newest of players but has its fair share of iPod-trumping features nonetheless. Top of the list is the ability to ‘side load’ content downloaded from the BBC’s TV catch-up service, iPlayer. That’s because the Zen supports Windows Media DRM, needed because of the way the BBC licenses content for download so that it will only be playable seven days after broadcast. (Obviously, you’ll need to be a Windows user in the first place, which is far from ideal.) The advantage of downloading rather than streaming iPlayer, of course, is that you don’t need to be connected to the Internet while viewing the content.

A couple of other features that I really like about the Zen X-Fi is the external speaker for communal viewing, the SD card slot so that the storage capability can be expanded, and that music, pictures and videos can be drag ‘n’ dropped both ways – to and from a PC  via USB – while in mass storage mode. Take that iPod/iTunes.

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…

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Watch live BBC television on latest Nokia phones

Live BBC TV on Nokia S60Live BBC TV and radio streaming (UK-only) is now available on Nokia’s flagship N96 and the all touch screen XpressMusic 5800 aka The Tube, reports All About Symbian.

The complete range of BBC television channels are accessible, including digital, along with the public broadcaster’s full radio lineup. AAS describes the picture quality as “not brilliant”, with a frame size of 176 by 144 pixels, although this can be scaled up to full screen in the S60 version of RealPlayer.

See also: Hands-on: BBC iPlayer for Nokia N96

Not a Nokia first

As readers may remember, last September, in a slightly controversial move, the BBC announced that it had developed a version of iPlayer for the Nokia N96 that supported both streaming and downloads – a first for mobile  – despite the fact that the handset hadn’t yet been released in the UK and therefore had a market share of zero. This left the BBC open to criticism that it was favoring one commercial player over others. Instead, why hadn’t it chosen to support equivalent handsets that viewers already owned rather than one that was yet to hit the market?

Part of the reason was technology, the N96 has an updated version of RealPlayer and the necessary Digital Rights Management functionality, along with the BBC betting on the device selling well in the UK or at least being picked up by carriers (the latter is certainly true). The same criticism, however, can’t be levvied this time around. As we reported back in December, live BBC TV and radio streaming was introduced as part of an updated mobile iPlayer site compatible with the Samsung Omnia, Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 and C905.

BBC iPlayer on more handsets: Nokia N85, Samsung Omnia, Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 and C905

It’s getting hard to keep up, with the BBC rolling out new versions of its UK-only seven day Internet TV catch-up service on what feels like an almost monthly basis. This time iPlayer support has been added to a whole bunch of recently released mobile phones.

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BBC iPlayer lands on PlayStation 3 – could Hulu be next?

Now that the PlayStation 3’s web browser supports full screen Flash video, I knew it wouldn’t be long before we’d see the BBC finally roll out a PS3 version of iPlayer. But boy was that quick.

Available in Beta, as of today PS3 owners can now access the Beeb’s seven day TV catchup service (UK-only), joining their Nindendo Wii brethren, along with specific versions for Nokia’s N96 and Apple’s iPhone. In fact, the BBC now lists compatibility with a whole bunch of portable media players, presumably via a generic mobile version, including the Archos 605 WiFi and Creative Zen X-Fi.

See also: BBC iPlayer on Wii gets a UI overhaul

The BBC always said it had a version of iPlayer for the PS3 in the works but that development was being held back due to the limited way in which Sony’s console supported Flash video. Now that’s been addressed, there’s no reason why other Internet TV services, such as Hulu, can’t follow in iPlayer’s footsteps.