BBC to consider changing compression used for iPlayer service

February 20, 2016

The BBC iPlayer is not devoid of its opponents but it has attracted 2.2 million people who have watched a sum of 17 million programmes. What is remarkable is that the newly launched streaming service may be due a renovation later this year according to The Register.

The Flash based streaming service extended the number of video playing devices the service would operate on and passed the obstacle of getting DRM protected content to run on a non-Microsoft platform. Intended amendments to the service to provide iPhone and iPod content may furthermore see changes to the streaming via iPlayer which will advance the quality of the content offered. In addition the iPlayer content should be accessible on Virgin Media cable network set-top boxes by the end of March 2016.

At present a representative one hour show will be a 600MB download, but streamed it would use just around 70MB. Much of this reduction is due to lower frame rates, lower resolution and higher levels of compression. Meaning that the streamed content while sufficient is not perfect for viewing on a large monitor. While the director of new media technology Ashley Highfield is documented as saying the impact on ISP networks has been ‘neglibible’ and represents a just a few per cent of the overall bandwidth traffic, for a single application on a single TV network to represent just a few percent could be major. If other catch-up services such as Sky Anytime and Channel 4oD account for comparable levels the overall impact is much higher.

While the streaming service presently allows the service to be accessible on an extensive diversity of platforms there are still devices that can play Flash based video content from sites like YouTube that cannot play BBC iPlayer content such as the Sony PS3, Sony PSP.


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