If you really know me, you know two fact about me:
- I’m quite tall. (at 6′ 4½”)
- I don’t have a TV license (though I do have a TV, connected to a Wii and a Mac Mini)
The first fact means I don’t mind standing near the back of gigs. The second fact means that my entertainment tends to be digital. I rent and buy DVDs, I download and stream the odd thing here and there, and I was very pleased when the BBC and ITV between them offered video streams of every England matches during the last World Cup.
So, as you may have guessed, I was rather excited when the BBC first started talking about what is now their iPlayer. Sadly, for many of the same reasons as Kyb (and many other people) I was also disappointed with it. Employing DRM, only working on Internet Explorer, only working on Windows, pretty-but-difficult interface, there was lots about it not to like.
Well, there have been some updates today, and things are (a little bit) better.
From the messageboard:
From today we are pleased to announce that streaming is now available on BBC iPlayer. This means that Windows, Mac and Linux users can stream programmes on iPlayer as long as their computer has the latest version of Flash. Another change is that you do not have to register or sign in any more to download programmes, and Windows XP and Vista users will have an improved version of Download Manager (formerly the Library) available to them.
- The fact that there’s now the ability to stream content thanks to a Flash player. Handy for me, since it works in Firefox (on a Mac, no less) meaning I can watch it on my TV.
- The fact that I don’t have to log in to use it. It just works.
- I like the fact that I don’t even need a TV licence to use it.
- The steaming quality is a bit mixed. Have I Got News for You was ok. The audio for Top Gear was dreadful.
- The fact that many of the programmes are still only available for download, not for streaming. And that of course means I’d still need to be using Windows.
At least for now. Back in October, Ashley Highfield (BBC Director of Future Media and Technology) said
“We need to get the streaming service up and look at the ratio of consumption between the services and then we need to look long and hard at whether we build a download service for Mac and Linux.”
For now, I’m using the iPlayer to stream stuff (and hope other Mac users and Linux users will be using it too), but I’m not holding my breath. For some more background and discussion on the DRM issues, see this excellent post from Andrew Bowden.
Come on BBC. You can do this properly.
The other change that happened today was that ‘Listen Again’ audio on demand service has also all gone black-and-pink, and rebranded itself ‘iPlayer’.
Here’s their explanation, which says we should “watch out for further changes over the coming months”. That’s a relief.