Devices Do Matter, As BBC iPlayer Sets New Records

For years, UK viewers have caught up on their favorite series online, through the BBC’s iPlayer website. But increasingly those viewers are able to watch shows they missed directly on their TVs, with the iPlayer now available on a wide range of connected televisions, Blu-ray players and game consoles.

While they still make up only a small portion of its overall viewership, connected devices are now the fastest growing portion of the BBC iPlayer’s viewership, according to the BBC Internet Blog. And that’s driving more overall iPlayer adoption: As the public broadcaster continues to post record numbers, there’s been a 10-fold increase in viewership on these devices since last June.

Part of that is due to the increasing number of devices that support the online video catchup service. Connected TVs and Blu-ray players from Panasonic, Sony, (s SNE) LG, Toshiba and Syabas are included in that group, as well as hybrid set-top boxes from Virgin Media (s VMED) and BT Vision that make the iPlayer available in pay TV households.

Expanded hardware availability comes as consumer electronics manufacturers are increasingly adopting Adobe Flash (s ADBE) and HTML5 on their connected devices. The use of Flash in TiVo-enabled (s TiVo) Virgin Media set-top boxes lets the BBC port its existing iPlayer experience with little additional work. But the real help is coming from a growing number of CE makers that have HTML5-capable TVs and Blu-ray players. The BBC internet blog reports that Panasonic and Sony now support HTML5 in their devices, along with Samsung, LG, and Toshiba.

Adoption of HTML5 in a fragmented connected device market is becoming increasingly important, as earlier this year the BBC Trust determined that the public broadcaster would only build standards-based TV and device apps. Unless, that is, manufacturing partners are willing to foot the bill for any proprietary development. Since there are now more than 10 different platforms for building TV apps, using standards will be the only reasonable way for the BBC and other content providers to be able to reach a wide base of users on those connected devices while staying within a reasonable budget.