BBC Says Microsoft, Sony Too Controlling on Streaming Video

By Chris Faylor, Apr 10, 2008 1:51pm PDT Though already accessible via the Nintendo Wii, the BBC has said that its streaming video service iPlayer is not presently available for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 because of Sony and Microsoft's tight control over their platform's offerings.

"If you want to get 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," BBC Technology Group Controller Erik Huggers told the BBC dot.life blog.

While the iPlayer currently uses the Wii's Internet Channel to deliver streaming versions of BBC shows--including Top Gear, the EastEnders, and Doctor Who--Nintendo and the BBC are planning to release a specialized application to deliver BBC video content.

At present, the web-based version of the iPlayer won't work on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 lacks a web browser and the PlayStation 3 doesn't support the Flash technology used for video delivery.

However, video content is available on the Xbox 360 through Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace, which sells downloads of television shows and rentals of popular movies. While the PlayStation 3 does not yet have a dedicated video marketplace, Sony has hinted that it may eventual offer paid video content via the online PlayStation Store.

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  • Anyone saying that the iPlayer requires Flash is forgetting two important points.

    1. The iPlayer's downloader downloads to (DRMed) WMV files. Files which, if added to a Windows Media Center Library (in MCE or Vista), will stream perfectly well to the XBox 360.

    2. The iPod Touch/iPhone version of the iPlayer streams H.264.

    The iPlayer infrastructure is clearly very capable of supporting the sort of setup that XBL and PSN would use, it's a matter of how much the console makers want it to happen, and how much the BBC care about getting onto people's TVs. Er, I mean, onto their TVs via their console. On the latter point, the BBC charter basically demands that they do their best.