As iPlayer goes global, BBC launches new TV-friendly version

Summary:London based broadcaster, the BBC, is not only opening up British TV to worldwide users, but also bringing out its next-generation on-demand service.

Less than two weeks ago, the BBC in London launched an international version of its iPlayer on-demand service to iPad users around the world.

Today -- already available for computers, subscription TV, mobile phones and games consoles -- the new TV-friendly version of the popular iPlayer service, designed and tailored for television screens, has been made available to PlayStation 3 users.

(Image via TheNextWeb)

Available on a multitude of platforms, including 300 web-connected television sets, Blu-ray players, and Freeview and cable digital boxes, the public sector broadcaster is required by codes of practice and law to make its broadcast programming available to as many as possible, irrespective of platform or device.

Little has changed in terms of functionality for existing users, as most will not experience the change until the BBC switches over to the next version later this year.

However, some additions have been made to the UK's most popular on-demand service. 'Programme flipping' allows users to continue watching a live or on-demand broadcast, whilst browsing other programmes through the menu.

Currently, only 20 per cent of the UK's online population use the iPlayer application. The world's largest broadcaster is aiming to make the on-demand service as open, as beyond the computer and as "embedded into mainstream culture" as possible.

Only 10 per cent, however, of televisions sold in the UK are internet ready, according to broadcast regulator Ofcom.

Both the iPlayer and the BBC is funded directly by the licence fee payer -- a cost of £145.50 ($239) -- which goes towards broadcasting around the world, including the Middle East and the United States.

The global iPlayer application will be accessible to iPad users initially from eleven European countries, including France, Spain, Ireland and Germany, costing €6.99 ($10) per month or €49.99 ($71) on the annual subscription.

Unlike the UK version, it will only show feature television programmes from Sherlock to Doctor Who -- whilst keeping the look and feel of the UK iPlayer application.

Though limited to iPad-using Europeans for now, it is expected to reach North America -- particularly the United States -- later this year.

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Topics: Mobility, Hardware

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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