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back to article BBC Trust says no to kit-specific iPlayer apps

If you're eagerly waiting for the BBC to pull its finger out and implement iPlayer on your TV, set-top box, games console or smartphone, forget it. The Corporation will almost certainly not help you, its governing body, the BBC Trust, has said. The Trust has been pondering how the BBC should syndicate its content and it today …

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Unhappy

What about third party apps then?

Multiple third party Android iplayer apps have been taken down after BBC cease and desist notices - the assumption has always been that it's because an official app is coming soon.

So now, presumably, this isn't the case. For platforms that can't play the flash video on the iplayer website, what options are there?

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Bronze badge

Assumption

Clearly the assumption was wrong then.

BBC have obviously decided that Flash is the "standard" (ahem) format. Therefore devices that can't get the flash from the website are not getting iplayer. What's hard to understand about that? Whether it's right or wrong I'll leave to others to decide, but I think the trust has made the position very clear.

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Silver badge

well

you make an app to transcode the flash. Job done innit.

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Silver badge
WTF?

How does this square with reality?

Iplayer is ready on Samsung and Sony Internet Tv's did the BBC do this or did the manufacturers?

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Anonymous Coward

Already on Set top boxes.

But I'm assuming that it is Browser based iPlayer not an App..

I still don't see why virgin cant just use this 'bigscreen' browser version like everyone else already is. ( www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen )

And whilst were on the subject will the BBC mobile iPlayer stop chcking for wifi its none of their business how I connect!!!! I'm fed up of having to use the bigscreen version (see link above) or use different browsers on my mobi just to watch iPlayer.

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Linux

Open Standards without licence traps

Simples. Just a matter of bandwidth and hardware decoding after that.

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Stop

@Highlightall

Nope still will need some sort of restriction. After all how do you prevent Johnny foreigner from taking content they have paid fuck all for.

Oh I forgot, that goes againt the freetards principles.

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Boffin

Only on live streams

"After all how do you prevent Johnny foreigner from taking content they have paid fuck all for"

Strictly speaking, I could live in the UK, watch iPlayer legally and not contribute to it by paying a licence fee.

A licence fee is only required if you watch the iPlayer's live broadcast streams. Rightly or wrongly, if you watch anything historical (including Eastenders that started 5 minutes ago), you do not need a TV licence.

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Bronze badge

For now...

"A licence fee is only required if you watch the iPlayer's live broadcast streams."

You're right, but not for long. The terms of the licence have changed before in order to deal with changing technology* and I doubt it will be long before you need a licence to us iplayer at all. It's not long ago that there were moves to require a TV licence for any property with a fast enough internet connection to watch TV.

* Take for example the change that was made meaning you needed a colour licence if you had a black and white TV and a VCR. Or even no TV and a VCR. This was apparently made because somebody spotted a loophole where you could use a VCR as a tuner for a colour monitor thus making a colour TV without owning a TV per-se.

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FAIL

Typical BBC Bullshit

***"The Trust has been pondering how the BBC should syndicate its content and it today stated that it believes iPlayer should be made available only in "standard formats" which service providers and telly manufacturers can readily adopt."***

So the BBC is going to stop providing Apple proprietary streams, then? Streams that only iThings can use, and stop blocking access to non-device specific formats (e.g. 3GP) as they do with Android (All Android phones are quite capable of playing the 3GP streams intended for Nokia phones, but the BBC actively prevent access from the web interface, and send in the lawyers against 3rd party developers who have the audacity to circumvent these restrictions).

Another flypast by the Porcine Air Force......

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Boffin

Dear Epycow.

When using android there are many solutions to circumvent the BBC restriction. You can use alternative browsers [or just different modes! its your option, do you see?] or just use the bigscreen version (link in post above)

iPlayer works just fine on Desktop's with Desktop Browsers....

(the clues are there - but Im not going to write it in plain english)

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Anonymous Coward

Mobile View

Enable mobile versions of web pages [x]

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Stop

That's fine

I have iPlayer in HD on PS3, along with 4OD and ITVPlayer, Lovefilm and Mubi amongst others already. (In addtion to PlayTV, Vidzone, YouTubeXL).

Happy here.

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Anonymous Coward

re: I have iPlayer in HD on PS3

No you don't, unless you are in some secret beta, we are still waiting for the BBC to add HD support (don't know if they need Sony to update the flash version first).

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Not sure why you;'re waiting

As their blueray player I own has a HD iPlayer mechanism on it that works fine in all respects.

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WTF?

Virgin Media's iPlayer

"Virgin Media will be annoyed by this since it wants to offer iPlayer through its set-top boxes but disapproves of YouView. As it stands, it has to stream iPlayer over its cable TV feed rather than the internet, yielding a lower quality image."

Why would Virgin Media be annoyed? They already offer a higher quality BBC iPlayer and iPlayer HD service via their cable set tops. Their new TiVo boxes also offer a dedicated flash based BBC iPlayer app. This is a blow to Sky, not Virgin Media.

"The solution is obvious: eat humble pie and join YouView."

It's up to YouView to eat humble pie. Virgin will meet or beat anything YouView is able to offer including a superior quality BBC iPlayer service.

"But it may not have to. The "exceptional cases" clause provides the BBC with a get-out that lets it work with YouView-phobes on dedicated players for their boxes. Even so, the Trust said such cases should only be considered when "the BBC's costs for development and maintenance would also be fully reimbursed". "

Virgin already covers the costs of providing a dedicated iPlayer service via its set top boxes. As such, it's able to offer, as noted by the BBC, the highest quality iPlayer service in the UK.

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WTF?

Huh?

"As it stands, it has to stream iPlayer over its cable TV feed rather than the internet, yielding a lower quality image."

Shouldn't that be the other way around? Cable has a higher available bandwidth than most internet connections and unlike Satellite or Terrestrial they can broadcast on-demand to best utilise that space, therefore picture quality should be higher, not lower. (It's also why IPTV is a solution looking for a problem).

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Stop

Virgin iPlayer is broadcast quality

I dont know where they get their info from at El Reg, but the Virgin iPlayer is as good as broadcast telly, and has an HD version too - with full 5.1 audio track.

The only difference is that some of the shows on the Internet version dont show up on the Virgin version.

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All I know is...

Watching it through the Virgin box looks better than watching it through the PS3

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And vice versa

I have iPlayer built into my Panasonic tv via Freesat and the internet and sometimes I have to knock up the Virgin Media box to find missing things. On the other hand the IP iPlayer has things available quicker than the VM box, usually within minutes of broadcast, whereas VM take a few hours to convert it.

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Isnt

This on the wii as a channel?

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Anonymous Coward

Wii

The 'bigscreen' browser version is here: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen

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Anonymous Coward

Yes

Yes. It also works better on my Wii than on my PS3.

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Anonymous Coward

quick fix

just remember to watch the program first time round. problem solved

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FAIL

WTF

As benjymous says, the BBC have been busily cease-and-desisting anyone providing third-party apps to let us view iPlayer content; I recently lost the ability to access iPlayer on my PDA as a result of them killing MyPlayer for WinMo. They used to have a web page with the live BBC channel streams in a format most devices could use, but guess what? They've added browser sniffing, and "your device is not supported". As far as I can tell, they're doing the opposite of what they're saying in this article. Would love to see them live up to what they're saying, but I'm not holding my breath.

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FAIL

Stupid Virgin Media

They don't want to stream iPlayer content over their TV network as it's lower quality. They'd rather build an app to stream it to the box over IP.

They don't like YouView (Project Canvas) because it streams over IP and wil clog their network.

I'm sorry what? Are they totally retarded. They don't want to stream over IP but they do want to stream over IP?

Maybe the left and right hands of Virgin should stop squabling and both slap the face together!

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FAIL

Ah, right. That explains...

why the iPhone/iPad-specific version now checks for the presence of a specific Apple-signed certificate before it'll deliver any content.

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No change

This hasn't changed the BBC's position on iPlayer development in the slightest. If you want iPlayer on your device (and you're not prepared to use the bigscreen version) then you approach them and they evaluate the effort required and the costs involved verses the payback.

If you're a no-name Chinese manufacturer who will churn out 50,000 el-cheapo plastic devices to sell at Maplin then they'll tell you to go away. If you're a TV manufacturer who is going to put it on their next 6 TV sets and sell 10+ million then they'll help you.

This is why the Wii, PS3, Samsung TV's and Sony TV's have iPlayer. Big brands, big presence, big volumes.

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Linux

Not really a problem...

Or, you could get round the problem entirely by hooking a laptop up to your telly.

Handy if you have bad eyesight too.

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FAIL

What about offline viewing

All of the above comments are debating the streaming of iPlayer content, and many rightly point out the contradiction in the BBC saying on the one hand, that only they will only support "open standards", and then, on the other, supporting the closed Apple environment specifically. Clearly keeping up with the media tw@t crowd (and I am part of it, albeit without the Apple fixation) and their iOS fetish is the unwritten rule.

However, what about offline viewing? At present they use a horrible resource hungry desktop app that most netbooks can't play, and the only mobile support is via DRM'd WMV - on what level is that an open standard? There must be a massive market of people who want to download and watch (offline) later but this simply isn't possible on the majority of portable devices. Relying on our decrepit, hopeless 3G network is a ridiculous pipedream, even in the supposedly comprehensively covered southeast, so enabling offline viewing is a must.

So come on BBC, follow your own rhetoric, and if you want to provide offline viewing, do it in such a way that we can use it. Thanks.

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Boffin

Here's what you do

You fire up a PC, buy a copy of iSkySoft* DRM removal (which is also a converter), download the programme of your choice in .wmv (using Internet Explorer, obviously, heaven forbid they should use open browser standards), set the converter output to the mobile device of your choice, set it going, then go to bed, ensuring the power saver settings on your PC will keep it running for the next three hours. In the morning, simply copy across the DRM-stripped and converted file of your choice onto your netbook/Nokia/Motorola/LG/SonyEricsson/Samsung/<insert non-Apple device here>. When you've viewed it on the train/bus/plane, delete the file and you've got a completely clear conscience.

*I've wasted days and weeks mucking around with Super and other freebies, and this is what I've ended up with.

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And offline listening

I want to listen to radio programmes of my choice in the gym and in my car, and I don't want to dick about with streaming -- my little media player works fine. There are podcasts to be had from the BBC, but music podcasts are right out. The Paul Jones blues programme fades out tracks after 30 seconds, so you have an interview with the artist and then 30 seconds from their latest album, or whatever. The podcast version is cut down to about ⅓ the length of the broadcast version -- utterly ridiculous. The back catalogue of In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg is very welcome, but officially (cough) it's unavailable to me in my preferred listening environments (above).

In practice I (a BBC licence fee payer) listen to more music from non-British podcasts than I do live from the BBC. If I could be bothered, I could get the programmes onto my media player through various means, as I've done before, but actually I couldn't be bothered.

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Boffin

DAB

So you get a Pure Evoke 3 and record the programs you want straight off the epg then just copy over the usb and convert.

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Anonymous Coward

t-mobile solution

"hey, just save that for your home broadband"

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FAIL

In that case, they need to make better use of UserAgent

My N900 is fed the full version. Surely it's a five-minute job to change their stuff to feed me a more suitable version.

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Pint

Works on iPhone4 just fine thanks

and on my rubbish fetchTV box. And my computer, and the Wii. presumably would be fine on the iPod and even on the iPad too if it hadn't been stolen. How many formats do you want, anyway?

PS If anybody gets offered a 32Gb 3G iPad with initials and a postcode engraced on the back, let me know!

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Silver badge

open formats

The idea of using open formats, rather than writing something specific for devices, seems fine.

But as others have noted, I'm concerned that this isn't what they do. There's the argument of whether things like "Flash" is open, I guess. But also the problem that they are spending resources on writing things for say, the minority of Iphone users - whilst at the same time, locking out non-Apple devices that try to use them!

I don't know why Iphones can use the standards like everyone else. But if the BBC does spend extra resources just for Apple, why isn't this then made available for all?

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Go

Well said, that man.

I think your question can be partially answered simply by looking at the BBC News tech pages, and especially anything by that Cellan-Jones feller. They read along the lines of "... iPhone blah blah iPhone blah iPhone blah blah blah iPhone..."

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Thumb Up

To be fair

Cellen Jones doesn't just talk about iThings.

He spends almost as much time blathering on about social networking.

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