25 June 2008

BBC iPlayer 2.0 = iPlayer 1.0?

The BBC today unveils a new-look BBC iPlayer which fully integrates radio and TV in one interface, as the service records over 100 million requests to view programmes in the six months since its launch.

The new-look service, which launches in beta tomorrow, will 'dual run' alongside the existing iPlayer for the next few weeks.

Erik Huggers, the BBC's Group Controller for Future Media and Technology, says: "The next generation of BBC iPlayer allows UK licence fee payers to catch up on their favourite BBC TV and radio programmes in one place – a completely unique on-demand service.

Fantastic news - I'm a UK licence fee payer, so presumably I can catch up on all this goodness on my GNU/Linux systems, no?

Well, maybe not:

The new-look BBC iPlayer will be available on other platforms for TV catch-up, including the Apple iPhone & iPod touch, and the Nintendo Wii.

Wot, no GNU/Linux? But wait:

The new-look BBC iPlayer is available on PC, Mac, Linux, Virgin Media, Apple iPhone & iPod touch and Nintendo Wii.

So it's available for GNU/Linux, but does that mean I can use the catch-up service, the main bone of contention for iPlayer 1.0?

Clear as mud.


JonoPrice said...

iPod touch/iPhone and Wii are considered other platforms because the back end support is different (in both cases different codec, in the iPhone case no flash), whereas the PC, Mac, Linux grouping he is talking about is the flash player version that's been there for ages.

Glyn Moody said...

Yes, that's what I assumed - but I can't help feeling this is an exercise in creative obfuscation as far as GNU/Linux is concerned, since I somehow doubt the catchup service is now available....

JonoPrice said...

By catchup, you actually mean download, yes? (Because the streaming flash iPlayer is a catchup service). If that is the case, I'd say you're absolutely right in terms of it not being available. But you seem to be attributing malice to the phrasing of this announcement, where I can't see it.

Did the BBC say they would make a download version of the iPlayer available for GNU/Linux? Yes.
Have they done that? Not yet.
Does that mean they never will? Not really, though I would agree that, as time moves on, lack of public announcements of any movement on this becomes more concerning.

Does all this mean that a press release that is mainly about the next iteration of the streaming flash iPlayer, but which contains what is, at worst, unfortunate phrasing, is evidence of deliberate obfuscation? I'd say not.

Glyn Moody said...

It's the "as time moves on, lack of public announcements of any movement on this becomes more concerning" that worries me. I suppose I see every press release that *doesn't* mention this as further evidence that the BBC hopes everyone will just forget about that tiresome GNU/Linux stuff.

That's why I'm being so mean-spirited in my interpretation: I think holding their feet to the fire is the only hope we have of getting the thing....

Anonymous said...

"I think holding their feet to the fire is the only hope we have of getting the thing...."
The only hope there is of getting the thing is a relatively secure DRM system that supports timeout being available for Linux for the BBC to licence. There will never be a download service for Linux otherwise. This has been more than clear for a long time, and has always been the case.
There ain't been no announcement by the BBC 'cos there ain't no change on the above position.

Glyn Moody said...

But maybe it's on its way: