back to article BBC spreads free Wi-Fi Cloud over iPlayer delay

The BBC has delayed the launch of its iPlayer on demand internet TV application by months. In a bid to head off criticism from Mac and Linux users, they will get access to a new ,more limited, streaming service. The full consumer marketing push for the download version, which launched in beta in July, had been slated for …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. cor
    Thumb Up

    Congratulations BBC

    On having the integrity not to bow to the commercial pressures of lock-in vendors.

    You had us scared for a while there.

  2. Smell My Finger

    iPlayer = unloved and unlovely

    I think the problem with iPlayer is probably even more basic than the fact there will only be limited access for non-Windows computers. Is there really any value in repeats of BBC programmes for up to 7 or 14 days after they were broadcast? In the main it'll endless repeats of non-essential, low quality tripe like Strictly Come Dancing and/or whatever talent show they're showing and that sort of thing. If the BBC really wanted to impress us, why doesn't it start opening its archives for material you really can't see or get anywhere else? They have made some of the finest programmes ever made for television that have vanished forever into their archives. Repeats of rubbish programmes when PVRs, DVD recorders and even video tapes are so widely available seems utterly pointless.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sigh - toys, pram, throwing...


    *The Reg wasn't allowed to attend the briefing because we're "always horrible" to the Beeb, the spokeswoman said.


    Well if the BBC wasn't stuffed (sorry I meant staffed) by a bunch of obsequious media fawners but was instead driven by technologists with their fingers on the pulse, the iPlayer debacle wouldn't have existed in the first place - FFS

    (Didn't the BBC used to be a proper organisation?)

  4. James Pickett


    >because we're "always horrible" to the Beeb

    Don't they know you're always horrible to everyone..?

  5. AndyB

    Awww Diddums......

    "*The Reg wasn't allowed to attend the briefing because we're "always horrible" to the Beeb"

    So the toys get chucked out of the pram. Typical of the BBC.

    I see that Ashley Highfield also made the following comment in the BBC News article.....

    "With spectrum capacity severely limited on Freeview at least until 2012 we believe quite strongly that IP (internet protocol) is a great route to getting HD out to wider audience."

    Surely the "director of Future Media and Technology" cannot be THAT clueless? Does he SERIOUSLY consider that HD over our current crappy up-to-8mbps-that-only-really-gives-1.5mbps-if-you-are-lucky broadband connections is workable?

    HD that is compressed to buggery is pointless.

    BTW, we need an 'evil BBC' icon.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPlayer for Mac and Linux...

    ...turns out to be a streaming video package in the manner of YouTube. Wow - I'm overwhelmed.

  7. Craig McCormick

    Clueless beeb

    I really had to chuckle when I read "We do not believe there will be an impact on the infrastructure of the UK internet. It is more than capable of dealing with this level of demand,"

    This is the outfit that can't keep messageboards running properly, have horribly bloated markup throughout their sites and stated that various text based services, like the messageboards for example, would need to be streamlined to allow for future streaming services.

    On the subject of them issuing software compatible with non-M$ systems, damn right they should. You pay your TV license fee and you are not restricted to particular brands of TV and peripheral equipment. so why be restricted in your choice of OS?

    PremiumTV also do this for the streamed media on their football oriented websites. Funny thing is, I've got a FLV (flash video) ripper that I can use to rip the flash stuff and then there's a reasonable little program I use to remove M$ DRM from .wmv files prior to converting them to iPod compatible .mp4

    Anybody who has anything to gain from the copyrighted materials streamed over the net, will easily be able to get what they want. The only people this hurts are the general public who are being forced to use M$ products to get what they are due.

    DRM sucks, as we all know. The BBC suck huge eggs and have never realy been answerable to the license fee paying public, who pay their frickin' wages and provide their budgets.

    Aaaahhh.... much better now.

  8. George Forth
    Thumb Down


    Never mind the OS functionality - I still can't get it to work at anything more than a crawl. It took 20 minutes to download the bloomin' software!

  9. Rob McDougall


    A quick solution for the mac, BBC bosses:

    If you love Microsoft so much, why not look at their new cross-platform product Silverlight? I'm not Microsoft advocate (far from it) but from what I can see, it definitely supports Mac and PC (not sure about Linux), and has DRM built-in.

  10. DaveTheRave
    Thumb Down

    It because its rubbish

    The real reason for the delay is not because it doesn't fulfill the needs of the open source posse...Its because its crap, eats your bandwidth constantly unless you kill of services, the quality of the video is awful....... you can get the programs from other not so legal sources quicker, more effectively and end up with near HD quality..... It realy does blow

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it Ironic?

    haha (in the style of Nelson Muntz)

    'because of the Windows DRM that the BBC says it is forced to use by programme makers'

    Program makers who have never heard of FairUse4WM !

    It is sooo easy to rip the DRM off im surprised they pay money to get it put on...

    mind you the obfuscated filenames do make it a little harder, by about 5 seconds!

    (Anon so beeb wont cancel my account!)

  12. Stuart Harrison

    If the flash player works with Opera on the Wii...

    I will literally wet myself with excitement. I've never been a fan of watching the telly on my computer. I'm hoping Opera was omitted from the article by accident...

  13. Misha Gale


    I suspect that they've run into some technical issues with porting iPlayer to Mac, Linux &c. The iPlayer is basically just a wrapper around the Kontiki software which also powers channel 4's on demand offering. And Kontiki is a very windowsy beast, and getting Verisign to make it platfrom independent may cost Auntie more than she is willing to pay.

    Personally, I don't really give a toss, as iPlayer is slower, more difficult to use and has less content than it's (already cross platform) black market equivalents. A streaming service might actually differentiate iPlayer from the pirate sites though, since it would be truly "on demand". But why not just extend the existing Real based streaming service, instead of investing in new Flash software? Just 'cos youtube uses it doesn't make it the best.

  14. Madge Silver badge

    Your kidding?

    Adding a 2nd proprietary format?

    I can "download" direct off satellite to my hard disk in MPEG2 (or MPEG4 for HD) with no re-encoding or loss of quality. Schedule it automatically and 6 month later watch it on PC or stream it on LAN or burn to DVD for the Home Theater.

    Explain to me why a somewhat more limited (by IP rather than satellite footprint) distribution at poorer quality needs DRM or proprietary formats.

  15. Mark


    So where's the 64-bit flash module for x86-64? The BBC had a project going to get a compression process going and dropped it. If cost is an issue, then maybe h264 or even MPEG2 would work. But Flash? What about ARM machines? XScale processors? Or is the mobile market going to be sidelined (in which case, why bother with the BBC archives being available on WiFi hot spots..?).

    Silly people.

  16. Léon


    Why not 'simply' creating the player in java? Then this entire discussion about platforms would be unnecessary.

  17. Parax

    Your not missing much...

    The majority of the programs available from the iplayer are pure dross, anything from daytime tv rules.. iplayer lacks all of the serious quality programs that we like the beeb for. You have to search through twenty bargain hunts or cash in the attics to find the one blue planet, or top gear. and when you can only view 9 programs at a time from a slow webserver it reallly sux it takes long to find your download than to watch it!

  18. David Evans


    The whole iPlayer system is misconceived. It strikes me that at no point has anyone in the BBC sat down and asked WHY people would use this type of service. As has already been said, what people really want is the archive, and to be able to access content when they're away from their TV, which guess what, often means when they're abroad. The BBC will fire back with the standard "rights issues" argument (they can't even put current shows like Torchwood on there because of rights, which beggars belief, frankly), but I'd argue they should consider getting their lawyers and techies to talk to each other. Why the hell they don't develop an auth system around the TV licence (they claim to know where and who we are after all) so they could then tell rights holders they are only "broadcasting" to licence payers, God only knows.

    Right now, iPlayer is just a poorly-executed gimmick, that doesn't even fulfil its own low expectations (it was two days putting Top Gear on there last week).

  19. AndyB
    Thumb Up

    A load of Wii

    @ Stuart Harrison

    If the Beeb use Flash 7 (Like YouTube) it should work with the Wii.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Downloads for all

    Downloads will become available for all users in due course, it is in the pipeline ...

  21. Paul M

    A Serious Question

    I've asked this before but got no answer.

    Why is it an issue to have DRM on programmes when downloaded over the Internet when those same programmes were broadcast in the clear at full PAL resolution only a week earlier? Why don't the rights holders care that anyone who wants to take a copy can easily do so using a cheap Freview USB tuner direct to DVD?

    P.S. Just seen the "Reserverd for AManFromMars" icon - he he he he he

  22. A J Stiles

    But why do they need Adobe?

    The question is, why do the BBC even need Adobe's involvement at all?

    You can generate .flv files using the Open Source ffmpeg library; and there are Open Source applications which can be used to create a Flash wrapper to play the .flv in a browser, which of course could be released under an Open Source licence. The only component in the whole toolchain that isn't Open Source is Flash itself; but soon (if not already) even the Flash movies will be playable in the Open Source Gnash player.

    Open Source diehards, and those using Linux on PPC or AMD-64 without 32-bit libraries, can already (with a little command-line trickery) play them using ffmpeg.

  23. Frank Bough


    Are you fucking kidding me?

    And this is to PACIFY Mac and Linux users??

    I don't know why I have to spell this out over and over - EMM PEG FOUR - AITCH TWO SIX FOUR, AY AY SEE.

    How hard can it be?

    Christ on a Peugeot Speedfight!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Ashley Highfield is a Microsoft crony

    I sense a disturbance in the force, not something I have felt since -

  25. abigsmurf

    People will still whine

    There's still going to be huge amounts of whining when Americans realise they'll implement IP based location filtering for these videos and watching videos through a proxy is a horrible experience. The majority of the people who complained in the first place weren't licence payers.

    Still, at least the BBC will now spend a fortune of licence fee money having to implement this web based solution as well just so a minority portion of the minority audience that will use this service can watch QVGA videos.

    If opensource people actually got off their high horse and developed a cross platform DRM system, then this whole situation could've been avoid. Instead they whine that the BBC are picking one of two DRM options (the other being realmedia) without presenting them with any options other than "remove the DRM even though licences for shows make this impossible!!!!"

  26. Tim J

    No DRM on Linux = No BBC iPlayer

    If there's no secure DRM mechanism available for the Linux, then the BBC won't release iPlayer for Linux.

    And given the open source nature of Linux, I can't quite see how there will be a secure DRM mechanism developed.

    A secure DRM mechanism for Linux - is it really possible?

  27. Mostor Astrakan

    Could someone please...

    ... name the programme makers that insist on using Digital Restriction Management to wring more cash out of us? That way I can avoid watching their stuff.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Misha Gale

    "But why not just extend the existing Real based streaming service, instead of investing in new Flash software? Just 'cos youtube uses it doesn't make it the best."

    Have you ever tried playing Real Video streams on a Linux box?

  29. Misha Gale

    re: No DRM on Linux = No BBC iPlayer

    There is no particular reason you can't have secure DRM on Linux, other than that open sourcers don't like DRM and are unlikely to invest time in creating one.

    DRM's security is (in theory) based on cryptographic techniques rather than security-by-obscurity so open-source implementations ought to be more secure. Of course, one could modify an open source player to save the decoded stream to disk instead of displaying it, but one could do the same to Windows Media Player, it just requires more reverse engineering.

    I think the main problem with your argument is that there isn't any such thing as secure DRM. All DRM is inherently vulnerable to the exploit described above, and of course the "analogue hole".

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mostor Astrakan

    I think you will find that it is not so much individual programme-makers who insist on DRM, but associations such as PACT, which makes it rather a closed shop: if you want to avoid watching their stuff, you'll have nothing to watch.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tim J

    "A secure DRM mechanism for Linux - is it really possible?"

    I doubt it, but that's not the point - there isn't a secure DRM for Windows either (fairuse4wm anyone?), and if you can consume the content, you can copy it - even in the digital domain by recording the DVI output of a video card, or by breaking the encryption on HDMI.

  32. AndyB

    Secure DRM?

    @ Tim J

    "If there's no secure DRM mechanism available for the Linux, then the BBC won't release iPlayer for Linux."

    There is no secure DRM. Full Stop. End of story. The whole premise behind DRM is broken. The player MUST contain the means to revert the encrypted / protected data into its clear form. Therefore any DRM implementation will ALWAYS be susceptible to reverse engineering.

  33. Martin Owens
    Thumb Down

    Missing Point

    >> A secure DRM mechanism for Linux - is it really possible?

    A secure DRM mechanism for Windows through obscurity by hiding the code - is it really secure?

    Well we all know the answer is no; if or when the open source community decides to implement a DRM scheme or some form of encryption the fact that the source code is available will force it to be more secure by nature. If it's not possible to make OSS DRM then it's not possible to make secure DRM.

  34. graeme leggett Silver badge

    El Reg not allowed in!

    "*The Reg wasn't allowed to attend by the BBC."

    Surely to coin the BBC's own style it should be "Due to reporting restrictions The Register can not report from inside the BBC, instead..."

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Misha Gale

    "DRM's security is (in theory) based on cryptographic techniques rather than security-by-obscurity so open-source implementations ought to be more secure."

    That may apply to normal forms of data transmission, but not to DRM because it uses a different mode. Normally, you use cryptography to prevent person C from getting hold of data sent from person A to person B, but with DRM, person B and person C are the same. You're trying to prevent someone getting hold of the data some of the time!

  36. Parax

    Secure DRM where?

    If you can see it it is decoded!

    ever heard of a video?

    No such thig as Secure DRM..

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    The problem *is* DRM

    DRM, in whatever guise, is poorly implemented and totally redundant. It *is* the problem.

    I simply don't believe the argument that the need for DRM is something being forced on the BBC by programme makers.

    Given that half the BBC's new media management either used to work for Microsoft (or enjoy giving presentations with senior Microsoft executives) I'd be more willing to believe the pressure is coming from Redmond.

    Microsoft know they're loosing the initiative on software innovation, so controlling content is the next money spinner.

    @Rob McDougall re. Silverlight. It's a scam designed to proliferate DRM by stealth.

  38. Spider


    and how many actually use the system regularly or like me downloaded it in the vain hope that all the criticism was just whining only to find it is in fact an unadulterated piece of crap. It's slow, poor quality rubbish.

    As for rights to shows, here's a thought - shoot the monkey who signs the contracts to make the bloody shows and get a proper lawyer FFS.

    Mind you, they can't even keep the radio player working for more than a few weeks at a time....

  39. Steve Medway
    Thumb Up

    BBC gives alternative BETTER than the original plan.

    This is crazy - why on earth don't the BBC just dump iPlayer? The alternative is better than the original - why on earth do I want to download stuff to my machine to play wasting valuable storage space?

    I'd much rather have the content on a BBC server that I can stream to my PC/Handheld/3G Mobile/Plamtop rather than a poor imitation of BitTorrent.

    So the BBC has to buy some new chunky servers. I'm more happier for my licence fee to go on that rather than dodgy software with horrid DRM that onlty works on one platform (well sort of I can run iPlayer in vmware on my mac - but that's a different story)

  40. Smell My Finger


    "Given that half the BBC's new media management either used to work for Microsoft (or enjoy giving presentations with senior Microsoft executives) I'd be more willing to believe the pressure is coming from Redmond." Can people please stop posting this unsubstantiated crap that's meant to construct a straw man from a web of nonsense. At the end of the day the BBC has a responsibility to protect licence payers money when their programmes are bootlegged. May be you haven't thought of this but everytime a BBC programme is bootlegged and distributed overseas it's being watched by people that haven't paid a single penny towards creating it. That's just ripping off the license payers. Pay up or piss off.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Highfield gets spanked by the regulators

    According to the BBC (at 17:18 this evening):

    "When asked if offering just video streaming across all platforms would fulfil the BBC Trust's terms of approval for iPlayer, a spokesman for the regulators said: "We required platform neutrality across downloads, streaming and cable [set-top boxes]."

    So come on Highfield - time to dump the Microsoft DRM encrusted crap and do something clever with the technology available rather than just giving business to your ex-employer.

  42. Craig McCormick

    @Smell My Finger

    ...why? Does it smell of Ashley, Bill or Balm?

  43. Luther Blissett

    Beware Greeks bearing gifts

    'because of the Windows DRM that the BBC says it is forced to use by programme makers'

    So right and so wrong. (1) whatever happened to the free market in independent TV content production that was Birt's baby? Either Birt failed, or the BBC are lying. (2) this statement should really be "because of the programmes that the BBC is being forced to use by the DRM makers", then it is more correct. But presumably the excuse the BBC have here is that anyone can get their subordinate clauses in a twist when confronted by a bunch of journos (horrid aggressive types, especially L. Reg, yuk yuk, questions from Paris Hilton and amanfromMars only please).

    This is a reverse takeover of the BBC by DRM, not a take up of DRM by the BBC.

  44. Chris Miller
    Jobs Halo

    iPlayer works just fine

    I'm not a DRM zealot - it's their copyright and if The Beeb wish to try (and probably ultimately fail) to place restrictions on its use, that's up to them. But I find the iPlayer to work well and produce perfectly acceptable quality - it's not HD, but it doesn't claim to be.

    And BTW it downloads rather than streams because not everyone in the country has a high-speed broadband connection.

    Or maybe it's just me??

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its the whole problem with DRM

    This whole iPlayer business sums up the whole problem with media companies and DRM. It really comes down to the companies not being able to understand that nearly all of their output has no commercial value -- they have to give it away because nobody will buy it. This is a bitter pill to swallow, and rather than recognize this and figure out alternative business models they're trying to control the flow of broadcast materials by using technology that is not only cumbersome but wants to take control over people's equipment. People don't like stuff that doesn't work properly so they figure out ways to fix it, this interferes with their business model and they try to solve the problem by brute force (in the US, the DMCA).

    Its pointless. I like old BBC shows, its neat when they started to be accessible over the Internet but if they went away then I wouldn't be heartbroken. I sometimes archive old material (John Peel before he died, for example) but realistically there's a limit to the amount of material a person can own (you run out of lifetimes to listen or watch it). There's nothing technical the BBC could do to stop me then, there's nothing technical they can do now, so why do they bother?

    (John Peel's radio show was an outstanding example of how entertainment and a business model co-existed. In its latter years it had a large International audience. I figure that none of the suits at the BBC ever figured out it was anything other than a pop music program.)

  46. Anonymous Coward


    Im curious to just how much of the Tv licening fee has been poured into this project and how many non uk licence fee payers will have access to this?

    the sooner the bbc has to fund itself instead of being given unlimited cash by the british public to fund what ever it chooses the better

  47. A J Stiles

    I just thought of something

    I just thought of something.

    iPlayer is Windows-only because of the DRM component, which depends for its "security" on the user *not* having access to the Source Code (which would show how to decrypt the data and put it to other uses beyond what the program was designed to do). Whereas Linux depends for its operation on the user *having* access to the Source Code (since programs must be compiled for the specific environment in which they will be executed).

    So why not move the DRM into hardware? Have a device which plugs into the PCI bus. You feed it a stream of Windows DRM-encumbered data, and it spits back decrypted data. The interfaces to the outside world can be fully documented; "place data on the low-order bits of D-bus and assert IORQ* / an interrupt will be generated when data is ready to read from the output buffer" sort of stuff, which would allow anyone to implement a driver for any machine architecture and OS. The only mystery is what is going on inside the silicon.

    This should work with any processor (assuming enough I/O bandwidth), take load off the CPU and be much more secure since the computer's main processor is not being expected to run unaudited code.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "*The Reg wasn't allowed to attend the briefing because we're "always horrible" to the Beeb"

    Perhaps the American and Israeli Governments should take a leaf out of their book and ban the groupthinking hiveminded beeb from their press gigs...

  49. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    @ Andy B

    ... "With spectrum capacity severely limited on Freeview at least until 2012 we believe quite strongly that IP (internet protocol) is a great route to getting HD out to wider audience."

    Surely the "director of Future Media and Technology" cannot be THAT clueless? Does he SERIOUSLY consider that HD over our current crappy up-to-8mbps-that-only-really-gives-1.5mbps-if-you-are-lucky broadband connections is workable?

    More to the point, for someone who is **supposed** to understand technology, I'm absolutely amazed that he thinks HD on DTT will be available after 2012. Quite simply, unless something changes before then, the government will have sold off the bandwidth required for HD - it's quite clear that OfCom doesn't see any merit in retaining any more spectrum than is required for the current muxes for use by TV.

  50. Chris Collins


    Iplayer is a dissapointment, the bbc did trial opening their archives up the old grange hills etc. but I guess they have changed their minds, if this happened I finally would have felt I was getting value for money for my tv licence.

    Instead as others have pointed out its more a catch up service rather then proper VOD eg. you cant decide you suddenly want to watch the entire first season of waterloo road as its more then 2 weeks old. Not only that technically its a trojan it automatically starts the p2p service which will use all your upstream bandwidth as it pleases, no scheduling, no monitoring, no control.

This topic is closed for new posts.