Video services

cNothing With iPlayer

9:30 AM -- So we signed up for the beta test of iPlayer, the P2P-based on-demand TV service that's been years in development at the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) . (See BBC to Launch iPlayer.)

The aim of the service is to allow people to download BBC TV programmes onto their PCs and then watch them at their leisure at any time up to seven days after initial broadcast transmission. After seven days the file's DRM disallows any further viewing, so it's a time-limited TV catchup service.

But it's free of charge and there are no adverts, either, so one shouldn't complain.


The number of TV programs available is limited. The few I was hoping to download -– the soccer highlights (Match of the Day) and part of a BBC-produced series on the British movie industry (British Film Forever) -– weren't available. The soccer situation is perhaps understandable, due to the rights issues over extended and repeated sports footage. The movie situation is less understandable, even if it does include short clips from movie scenes.

But it is only in beta, so I picked another program so I could try out the service.

Fat chance. The Website told me I needed Internet Explorer, Windows Media, and Windows XP to perform the download and watch the video. I have all three, and the iPlayer software actually confirmed I have all three, yet it told me I wasn't able to download any content.

That's frustrating. And it seems my frustrations are shared by plenty of other iPlayer beta testers, as the feedback boards are full of similar complaints. The BBC still has plenty of work to do on its digital download baby.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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