BBC: crippled, streaming-only iPlayer coming to Apple Mac by year end

“The BBC has confirmed that users of Apple Mac and Linux machines will be able to use its TV catch-up service from the end of the year,” BBC News reports. “The broadcaster has signed a deal with Adobe to provide Flash video for the whole of the BBC’s video services, including a streaming version of its iPlayer. Currently only Windows XP users can use iPlayer, downloading programmes on to their PC and keeping them for up to 30 days.”

“At the end of the year users of Windows, Mac or Linux machines will be able to watch streamed versions of their favourite TV programmes inside a web browser, as well as share the video with friends and embed programmes on their own websites, sites such as Facebook and blogs,” BBC News reports.

“Ashley Highfield, the BBC’s director of Future Media and Technology said the BBC had not committed to offering the iPlayer to Mac and Linux users who want to download and keep content on their machines for a limited period,” BBC News reports. “He said: ‘We need to get the streaming service up and look at the ratio of consumption between the services and then we need to look long and hard at whether we build a download service for Mac and Linux… It comes down to cost per person and reach at the end of the day… We are not ruling it out. But we are not committing to it at this stage.'”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Daneel” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: The BBC Trust made it a condition of approval for the BBC’s on-demand services that the iPlayer is available to users of a range of operating systems, but shouldn’t The BBC Trust also ensure that users of other operating systems are not consigned to an “iPlayer” of substandard quality due to a crippled feature-set? This is discrimination. Once again, Mac users get screwed by The Beeb: you still have to pay your full TV tax while continually being treated like a second-class citizen or worse. The BBC seems to be saying to Mac users, “You’ll like what get or you’ll get even less, perhaps nothing at all.” Contact The BBC Trust:


  1. Even though the pressure will have to be maintained on them to give us the full version it’s clearly a step in the right direction.
    What is also good news is that they’re committed to replacing all their current RealPlayer and WMP video services with Flash versions which is the kind of thing a lot of us have been calling for.

  2. I suppose, when they stream in flash, you can open the activity window of Safari and double-klick the .flv file for download. Sometimes, you have to press the alt button, and force download it as .flv.txt. Once download is complete, just eliminate the .txt from the file name, and use VLC to compile it as MPEG4 – voila!
    Much better quality than any .wmv streams.

  3. But why not stream in H264? Why go for yet another proprietary technology, particularly as the quality is so poor?

    Even YouTube is moving in that direction.

    Agreed, though, that anything that gets us away from the old RealPlayer/WMP duopoly is a good thing.

  4. As a TV licence payer they need to:
    • let existing licence holders register for a username and password
    • let them log in and watch whatever they want on ANY device i.e. iPod, TV, PC, AppleTV without DRM
    • watermark their files with the encrypted username so they can track prolific pirates

  5. Before slagging the BBC and BBC Trust off too much you should read the full details of the conditions laid down by the Trust on Platform Neutrality i.e. section 3.2 of this document: There you will see that the issue of DRM is the reason for the delay in introducing non-streaming functionality on the Mac.

    That said there is no excuse for Mr Highfield’s comments about not being committed to downloads on Mac & Linux. The BBC are required to do this unless the Trust relaxes the conditions. The only problem is they didn’t give them a deadline for doing it.

  6. The is b….y Microsoft at it again! It should be simple for the Beeb. Everybody pays the license fee therefore everybody is equal and should have an equal chance to get what they are paying for. Unfortunately that doesn’t chime with MS agenda.

    Once they start to play favourites (= buy MS stuff or else), they lose the justification for the license fee and become simply another shark in the market place.

    I can see a lot of Mac users who were probably supporters of the license, starting to agitate for its removal. Certainly if this goes on for long I’ll be one of them.

  7. BBC=Microsoft.

    Isn’t Flash on the way out. Apple’s site doesn’t use it but streams H264 perfectly well?

    These guys talk the talk about moving ahead, but in reality they hold things back, to mediocrity.

  8. Isn’t it interesting that they won’t support Macs from an ap that derives its very NAME from riffing on (to put it positively) one of Apple’s most famous devices?
    iAnything is trying to conjure the appeal and align itself with the iPod. remember those rumors a year or so so ago that Apple was trying to trademark the word “Pod”? They ought to do it with the practice prefixing product names with a lowercase “I”. It’s more distinctive and creative, and more anoying when it’s copied.

  9. MDN: The BBC seems to be saying to Mac users, “You’ll like what get or you’ll get even less, perhaps nothing at all.”

    Not that I condone any service that deliberately discriminates against non-Windows computers, but it’s truly ironic that MDN writes this, and yet slags on iPhone enthusiasts who extend iPhone’s capabilities (as long as they accept the consequences and don’t whine and try suing–those are fair game).

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