iPlayer has changed little for me

BBC iplayer conee

Its BBC iPlayer's first birthday today and the BBC has a range of things planned around the event. Good stuff, its been something to be proud of and the alterations keep coming thick and fast. But although there is all this lovely innovation going on with iplayer and all those iphone, nokia nseries users and console owners are feeling the benefits, I got to be frank and say its done little for myself.

This will seem quite negative and maybe not best timed some would say, but I've been thinking about it and where I would like to see iplayer this time next year. Actually last year about this time, I remember watching Ashley Highfield take the stage of a central London venue and show BBC FM&T (future media and technology) the iplayer adverts which would go out on TV during Christmas. Yes remember making the missable unmissable or something tag line like that? Anyway, even then, I knew it was going to change very little of my media consumption.

I can't put my finger on it, I like watching stuff on my 40inch LCD screen and I like the idea of accessing files when I choose to watch them. iplayer's 7 day window means I still can't watch whole series in one go or catch up with old episodes of a series I may have missed the start of. So for example, I caught the 3rd episode of the BBC high budget post super-flu drama Survivors. Within a few days, I was able to find parts one and two in high def to watch back to back. This type of behavour is common when leaving the broadcast stream but iplayer doesn't quite support that. iPlayer doesn't support playlists, this might sound kind crazy but think about it, when I watch media at home I add them to a mixed playlist of not only TV content but also films and Podcasts. To me its all just media. Formats are reduced to nothing because XBMC plays everything and anything. This is also why I've not bought a CD since 1997. Any CDs I've borrowed have been converted to Mpeg3s and most of my film collection exists on HD now. Streaming content can fit into the routine, for example I do sometimes watch youtube, vimeo, bliptv conehttp://farm3.static.flickr.com/2133/2451266469_653d85446d.jpg?v=0tnt but with iplayer the 7 day window makes links harder to engage with. Every once in a while I will cut or edit media for the blog or something else, so the ability to do so in iplayer is not possible. Even the ability to include a start and end position like Hulu and even Youtube now, would be useful.

So what would I like to see in the next year? 31 day window would be great and finally allow for more long tail use and the effort of getting the streaming links would be worth it. I would like to see all of the BBC's content on iPlayer including HD content. Yep some HD like Vimeo/Blip streaming flash would be lovely, those extra lines are useful on such a large screen. It would be good to see other types of streaming like Pure Mpeg4 (non h.264), Theora, Windows Media streaming would cover older windows mobile phones and slightly older smartphones. Download and Bit torrent distrubution would be great but I understand thats still sometime away due to the copyright owners and not the BBC.

Happy Birthday iPlayer, time to grow up and revisit some of those more touchy issues. If you don't the community will do it for you.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at cubicgarden@mas.to, cubicgarden@twit.social and cubicgarden@blacktwitter.io