Blog Post

BBC Plans for iPlayer Almost Anywhere

BBC’s iPlayer is seeing about one-tenth of the broadcast audience, with half a million viewers tuning in on the busiest days, according to a piece reported by Chris Williams at The Register that cites Anthony Rose, the Beeb’s head of media technology and Ashley Highfield, its director of new media and technology.

ashley_highfield-anthony_rose.jpgThe two also reveal upcoming support from the BBC for the iPhone and iPod touch handhelds, but not necessarily via the iTunes store. The plan instead would allow iPlayer content to stream onto the devices via Wi-Fi.

Highfeld, left, and Rose, pictured.

But the article also claims that Britain’s national broadcaster is considering dropping Flash, which is rather confusing. Flash would only be dropped for streaming from the main iPlayer site. Adobe has integrated h.264 support to Flash (which would make encoding for web streams and iTunes downloads seamless), and Apple is reported to be adding Flash video support to the iPhone, so Flash may well become the choice for streaming to handhelds.

To add to the confusion, while the downloadable client application uses Microsoft’s Windows Media format, the Beeb has apparently developed it’s own open-source codec, Dirac. Since the iPlayer has been on the frontlines of the format wars since its inception, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at the codec stew being stirred in London.