Andy McKay

Jan 01, 2008

iPlayer - first thoughts

It's taken a long time for the BBC to get there, but a few weeks ago iPlayer launched. iPlayer has a Flash based player (like every other site in the world) that lets you see programmes from the last 7 days. After that they no longer show up on the site. In the last few days we've watched Doctor Who, Top Gear, Robbie the Reindeer and Have I Got News For You.

For most they've worked really well, a couple of times the flash based player just kept hanging and it took a stop and start to get them working. One was followed by a 20-30 minute outage of everything, so probably nothing to do with the iPlayer. But once they were running they ran without any delay in full screen mode. As the site gets more popular I hope they can keep the bandwidth going, watching an hour of Doctor Who without any pausing is great.

I'd really like to see the navigation a little easier and maybe some RSS feeds so I can see when an episode of the few shows I'd like to watch is actually coming on without having to go and search. But all in all, very impressed.

The only real shame in the whole thing is that it took the BBC so long to get there in the fight for client side DRM technology. Once upon a time, writing software for the desktop made sense. But the web solves that problem, who cares about downloading, just watch straight on the web, remove the problem. Well sort of, sites like will catch up and the game will be on to stop downloads, but for the moment, well done BBC.

In the end iPlayer should be something really good, bear in mind the BBC is the single biggest creator of television content in the world (and probably the best). That will beat any number of YouTube clones.