In more news regarding the BBC iPlayer and following on from last months post about the service launching on both the iPhone and iTouch, iPlayer Launched on iPhone and iPod Touch, it seems the service has stepped up a gear and is now available on the Nintendo Wii.
Having struck deals with Apple to be the first mobile platforms to support the service, it seems the BBC is now pushing the service into living rooms of the public through the Nintendo Wii.
It has been rumoured that both Sony and Microsoft were eager to sign the iPlayer for their respective PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles, but the deal feel through due to increasing demands of the games console manufacturers.
“If you want to get [iPlayer] on the PlayStation or Xbox, they want control of the look, the feel and the experience; they want it done within their shop, and their shop only.” - head of BBC Future Media and Technology Erik Huggers
Darren Waters, BBC technology editor said “The BBC’s announcement of a deal with Nintendo to put the iPlayer’s streaming service on the console makes something of a mockery of claims by Sony and Microsoft that their consoles are the true multimedia machines.”
With Xbox live having no browser it seems Microsoft are unwilling to work with the BBC without retaining control over the look and feel of content delivery, however with the ‘open platform’ of the PS3 it does seem inevitable that the iPlayer will find its way to the PS3 before long.
“[Sony] has said often that PS3 is an ‘open platform’ and all it would take is a small update to let gamers access iPlayer in the web browser.” – Darren Waters, BBC technology editor
With the majority of iPlayer customers currently accessing BBC content through a PC, the publicly funded broadcaster is taking steps to make its services available directly to the big screen television set, and it sees the Japanese games console as a means of doing so.
Currently users can view content downloaded from the iPlayer through their television sets, although it requires using the S-video output on most notebooks and a suitable S-Video to Scart cable. For LCD or plasma screen screens this could be replaced by a higher quality VGA input/ output.
The advantage of this latest deal for the iPlayer is that the Wii consoles are already rigged up to TV set, and therefore programmes can be viewed directly on the console.
Wii players will need to install the Internet Channel which will cost 500 Wii points or £3.50 but there are plans for a free alternative in the future.
The service will remain in beta initially as the BBC experiments with the optimal video encoding techniques for superior playback. The BBC already encodes all 400 hours of weekly iPlayer video, and now must do the same again for the high quality H.264 iPhone streams, and the Wii.
Wii encoding will be of a poorer quality as the Wii only supports Flash 7.This is because of the fact that initially the Wii was only designed to support lower quality Youtube style video.
“Our regular Flash content is encoded at 500Kbps. We chose that bitrate because it’s the highest quality that could be reliably streamed on pretty much any UK broadband internet connection. However, for Wii we had to increase the bitrate to 820Kbps because the Sorenson codec used by Wii simply needs more bits to achieve the same picture quality,” – BBC’s Anthony Rose