All entries for Tuesday 11 March 2008

March 11, 2008

BBC iPlayer

BBC iPlayer

Link to Chronology of UK Digital TV

The Guardian Organgrinder commentary asks:

So just how important is the BBC's £131m investment in the iPlayer to the future of television viewing, audience measurement and competition with commercial companies such as ITV and Joost?
Other useful nuggets revealed that streamed iPlayer viewing is dominating downloads by 8:1, although the BBC expects this to level out at 4:1 in the future, with 70% of shows downloaded actually viewed.

Partner deals with the likes of Bebo - and now Yahoo, MSN and Blinkx - are an important part of fulfilling the iPlayer's public service remit, said Highfield. He pointed out that 8 million internet users engage with BBC content via non-BBC websites - three million of whom never visit bbc.co.uk.

...the iPlayer internet service is just a stepping stone to making BBC programmes available on every available digital outlet and device - including iPhone and iPod video in the coming weeks - with a launch, albeit slightly delayed, on Virgin Media's cable TV service next month.

such a well-funded project from a household name like the BBC, offering high quality content, could well take broadband TV into the mainstream.

An ITV insider argues that the success of the iPlayer was an endorsement of its own strategy and revenue targets - which include making £150m-a-year in digital revenues from iTV.com by 2012 - as opposed to a threat that will kill any commercial operator's chances of making money out of broadband TV stone dead.

Of course the rise and rise of the iPlayer's popularity could also prove to be its biggest bone of contention with ISPs.
Best of the Organgrinder Blog comments

I would like to see the entire archive of BBC programmes placed online without any DRM limiting how long I have to watch them. There are thousands of programmes out there that are worth watching, but are never placed on DVD or any other form of media that allow them to be watched again.

As someone who has paid the licence fee, I think that the BBC's remit should include making all its programmes available to all who pay the licence fee. (Roadie)

Making the entire archive of the BBC available is the ultimate goal of the BBC too. however there's 2 major hurdling blocks.

Firstly the getting rights usage from all all these programs.
the bbc don't 'own' the rights to use and do what they wnat with these programs as you might imagine. it is amazing how complex this is, particularly for older programs and anything involving music. for every clip you licence a variable fee is paid to the writer, principle performers etc. depending on the length. A fee and agreement has to be worked out and agreed to for every program from all contributors.

Second. Finding the master copies, digitising and storing all this content and creating an infrastructure and capable or serving the content via the web is no small task.

Thankfully all programs now made at the bbc are digitally archived and i would assume most contracts contain either buyout or internet rights usage.(Attic)

I've been using the iPlayer since it was the alpha product, the BBC iMP.

The introduction of the Flash version which gives immediate access from Windows, Macs and even my Linux Eee PC is great.

The download version just needs the Microsoft DRM snake oil removing from it, but I've been bugging them (and they are nice people who were very polite about it) for some years.

What's missing?

1) Series stacking. PACT didn't like the idea that you could catch up with all the episodes of a series you missed, so that's a bit crappy/..

2) The long tail. Yes, you know what it is. Auntie know what it is. But the iPlayer has docked it! How wrong is that?

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/visualizing-traffic-analysis.html

3) IMHO the BBC should be - for the licence fee - a national library, not just another pusher of shiny things. There needs to be just a little more public service in the iPlayer. (Briantist) 

I've been using the iPlayer since it was the alpha product, the BBC iMP.

The introduction of the Flash version which gives immediate access from Windows, Macs and even my Linux Eee PC is great.

The download version just needs the Microsoft DRM snake oil removing from it, but I've been bugging them (and they are nice people who were very polite about it) for some years.

What's missing?

1) Series stacking. PACT didn't like the idea that you could catch up with all the episodes of a series you missed, so that's a bit crappy/..

2) The long tail. Yes, you know what it is. Auntie know what it is. But the iPlayer has docked it! How wrong is that?

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/visualizing-traffic-analysis.html

3) IMHO the BBC should be - for the licence fee - a national library, not just another pusher of shiny things. There needs to be just a little more public service in the iPlayer.

Webliography 

About the BBC iPlayer

February 08: Guardian Organgrinder : Could this be Broadband Tv's Freeview Moment?


Freeview Posts Record Growth

Freeview Posts Record Growth Last quarter of 2007

Introduction 

Freeview is owned by a joint venture between the BBC, National Grid Wireless, Sky, ITV and Channel 4. The Guardian reported today that Freeview is now examining the possibility of developing a new generation of set-top boxes that consumers can plug in to their broadband connections. This would enable them to access online services such as the BBC's iPlayer through their television sets.

In its best ever performance, more than 3.8m devices that can receive Freeview were sold in the last quarter of 2007, according to figures to be released today. For the year as a whole 9.7m TVs, set top boxes and personal video recorders were sold that can receive Freeview's more than 40 free to air channels, up 64% on the previous year and also a new record. (Guardian March 11th 2008)

The History of Freeview

Before Freeview was the ill-fated On-Digital from ITV: (BBC October 2002) 

In fact numbers are much less important to Freeview than they were to ITV Digital. The new consortium does not have to sell subscriptions to recoup the cost of premium programmes like ITV Digital's ultimately crippling £315 million deal with the Nationwide League. (Nick Higham BBC)

Emily Bell's Guardian Media column in 2002 entitled: It's Free but will Anyone Want it? made the following comments:

But Forrester's pessimistic ponderings highlighted another conundrum at the heart of Freeview. What on earth is it for? The answer is plugging the digital gap - between those who don't want or can't have or can't afford cable or Sky but will need a new digital television or decoder in order to make it possible for the government to switch off the analogue signal. Undoubtedly one of the key correct decisions about Freeview is that it is free. But then, as Lemony Snicket might warn, there is an ever-present danger that you won't be able to give it away. (My Emphasis)

Freeview Now 

...in the third quarter of last year more than 86% of UK households were so-called multi-channel homes - which includes those still taking Virgin Media's old analogue cable service. (ibid)

The strong take-up of 'free' digital terrestrial TV was also fuelled by sales of flat screen TVs with built-in digital TV decoders. Last week, department store group John Lewis reported that it sold more flat screen TVs - the vast majority of which include digital TV decoders - over the festive period than it had in 2006. (ibid)

Faced with the possibility of losing television altogether, digital refuseniks have been caving in and buying a new TV or set-top box. With the market reaching saturation point, Freeview reckons its future growth is likely to come from sales of Playback branded devices. Like personal video recorders from Sky and Virgin Media, Playback allows users to pause or rewind live TV and record an entire series with the push of a single button.

"Clearly looking at TV as a whole and the way that the technology is moving, integrating internet-provided TV with broadcast-provided TV has to be the shape of things to come," said Howling.  (General manager of Freeview). 

Recent Information on Freeview Channels Viewership

The Launch of 'Dave' on Freeview

Chris Tryhon Guardian Media reporter 24th October 2007 

Dave's debut week makes it the fifth biggest channel - discounting the five analogue terrestrial channels - among all multichannel viewers over 16.

ITV2 tops the list with a 1.93% share, followed by E4 (1.61%), ITV3 (1.6%) and Sky Sports 1 (1.42%). Channels below Dave include BBC3, Living, UKTV Gold and Sky One.

Among ABC1 males and 16- to 44-year-old males, only Sky Sports 1 outranks Dave in the multichannel ratings outside the big five of BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel Five.

This appears to vindicate UKTV's strategy of rebranding UKTV G2 to Dave and focusing on a young male audience by offering a mix of comedy and factual entertainment programming.


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