The BBC will be one of the first content providers in the UK to have video available on the Apple iPad when it ships across the pond tomorrow, according to Mark Prigg of the Evening Standard. Prigg tweeted yesterday that Erik Huggers, the BBC’s director of future media and technology, said an iPad-ready version of the BBC’s latest iPlayer site would be ready for viewing on the device when it becomes available to users in the UK market.
The news comes just a day after the Beeb launched the latest version of its iPlayer site online, which integrates more social viewing features into the video catchup service. And it follows on the heels of similar high-profile video services from Netflix, ABC and CBS, which were made available during the iPad launch in the U.S.
Unlike Netflix and ABC, which came out with dedicated apps for video playback, the BBC iPlayer will be available through an iPad-optimized browser. And since the BBC currently uses Adobe Flash for its web videos, which isn’t supported on the iPad, the broadcaster will instead rely on HTML5 video encoded in the H.264 video format. That’s the same approach taken by CBS in the U.S., which is working to ensure that all videos available on CBS.com through PC web browsers will also be viewable on the iPad.
While the BBC iPlayer will initially be available in the browser on the new tablet device, it may release an iPad app at some point in the future. The broadcaster is still trying to determine whether it can release free apps of its content on mobile devices such as the iPad or iPhone, or if that action would be considered harmful to its commercial peers. That decision — which would be made by the BBC Trust — has already delayed the release of news and sports iPhone apps in the UK, due to concerns by newspaper rivals that allege such apps would undermine their ability to create commercial services on those devices. In the meantime, Huggers says the broadcaster will make sure its iPlayer videos are playable in the iPad’s Safari browser.
“The BBC Trust has decided that it wants to take a look at the BBC’s plans for applications in general. That is within the gift of the BBC Trust to decide,” Huggers told the Register. “But through the browser we will absolutely make iPlayer available on the iPad.”
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