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The BBC last week made a streaming version of its iPlayer available for the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

BBC iPlayer

After coming under criticism from open source groups over its decision to limit access to Windows XP users, the corporation made a deal with Adobe to stream iPlayer content through its website.

The download service is still limited to Windows, but the streaming content is now available to all - but is it any good?

We looked at the iPlayer when it launched in July, and found a number of frustrating problems in setting the service up and downloading the latest version of Windows Media Player.

In addition, the download times weren't too impressive - up to four hours for a one hour programme.

The new streaming version solves this problem, and the best of the last week's BBC content can now be viewed almost instantly.

iPlayer

However, there are problems with this new version. For instance, to watch programmes in full screen you first need to download the latest version of Flash player.

This is fine, but having done this, I still couldn't use the full screen mode. Also, having watched half a programme without problems, I was confronted with this error message - not so good:

iPlayer error message

The iPlayer is still in beta, so perhaps these are just teething troubles, but this is very frustrating for the user.

When it works properly, the BBC's streaming service is more than a match for ITV's catch up broadband service, which suffers from usability problems, as well as an excess of advertising.

Teething problems aside, the iPlayer offers an excellent range of content and, by offering streaming video, takes away the waiting times associated with downloads.

The BBC will begin marketing the iPlayer to the public on Christmas Day - hopefully it will have sorted out these issues before thousands more people start using the media player.

Related stories:
Over 120,000 downloads for BBC iPlayer
ISPs concerned about the iPlayer
Broadcasters confirm joint video plans

Graham Charlton

Published 18 December, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Will

I love the iplayer. It can be a bit fiddly to use and it's pretty subtle about not telling you it's going to suck all your bandwidth for peer to peer (I changed my settings and shut it down now when my downloads are done). For me, it means I can get up on Saturday and Sunday mornings when I typically work from home and watch / listen to various excellent programmes in the background as I work instead of the utter dross that gets pumped out by morning weekend TV. It may seem like a small thing but it actually makes my weekend mornings entertaining rather than a bit of a chore.

One complaint about the new streaming is that you seem to be able to download less (eg have i got news for you can only be streamed now, for some reason). bandwidth etc can make streaming a bit bumpy, so my preference is to download the show and have it in my library to watch when i want, rather than go back and refind the programme and stream it. hardly the end of the world though.

ref the new flash plug in, I had the same problem...so i restarted iplayer and it worked fine.

Now if only they'd start putting match of the day on there....
:)

over 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Club Penguin

For me, it means I can get up on Saturday and Sunday mornings when I typically work from home and watch / listen to various excellent programmes in the background as I work instead of the utter dross that gets pumped out by morning weekend TV. It may seem like a small thing but it actually makes my weekend mornings entertaining rather than a bit of a chore

over 6 years ago

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bilgicity

thank you very much good reply

over 6 years ago

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