Today sees the start of the BBC’s online live streaming of BBC1 and BBC2, though this is something ITV has been doing for a while with its four channels.

BBC2 live streaming

I’ve been watching BBC2 through the iPlayer to see how well it works online, and whether the BBC does it better than ITV…


The BBC streams BBC1 and BBC2 through the iPlayer, which is excellent in terms of usability. The channel started straight away and played in decent quality without any buffering.

The video screen is already set at a decent size on the iPlayer, which makes it easier to watch. It can be expanded to full screen as well, though picture quality tends to suffer when you do this.

Most programming was available to view online, though this message will pop up when something cannot be shown due to licensing restrictions: 


Strangely, the BBC doesn’t seem to be promoting this new live streaming service anywhere on its website, unless you go to the TV listings. Even the iPlayer homepage doesn’t mention the availability of live TV.


As with its catch up TV service, ITV’s streaming TV online doesn’t match up to the iPlayer in terms of usability.

The service is at least promoted prominently on the homepage, though the video player is way too small to view any more than video clips: 

ITV video player

It can be expanded to full screen, but the quality suffers when you do this: 

ITV player full screen

The problem is that there is no in-between option here, so watching ITV online is a pretty unsatisfactory experience. 

ITV runs a 20 second pre-roll ad before each programme, which isn’t too intrusive, but I found that much of the programming was unavailable online, though you have to watch the advert before you find this out, which can get annoying.

As with the two TV channel’s online catch up services, lags behind the iPlayer when it comes to usability.  

Having launched much of its online video offering first, ITV has been overtaken by the BBC in terms of viewing figures online. It would be well advised to take a look at the usability of its video player.

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