BBC iPlayer to stream video in Flash

Summary:Adobe announced a partnership with the BBC today around a streaming version of their iPlayer. The press release hits on a number of good points including the fact that this means that the BBC will be using Adobe tools (Premier Pro and Product Premium) to both create/produce video and now Flash Player to help stream it.

Adobe announced a partnership with the BBC today around a streaming version of their iPlayer. The press release hits on a number of good points including the fact that this means that the BBC will be using Adobe tools (Premier Pro and Product Premium) to both create/produce video and now Flash Player to help stream it. The download version won't be going away, but because it was Windows only, this now opens up a cross platform way for people to watch content from the BBC.

This is a more significant announcement than people might realize at first. The BBC has a ton of Windows Media content as this quote illustrates:

The BBC has been providing streamed video since 1997 so we have already made a huge investment in Real and Windows infrastructure.

Just like a lot of big media sites out there, most of their video is in WMV format. That's something that Adobe has had trouble breaking in to. Despite the benefits and ubiquity of Flash, it's expensive to convert a massive library of WMV content to Flash content. But because Flash is so popular and now will support the H.264 codec, people are starting to make that move despite the cost.

Microsoft makes a lot of money on servers, and when you buy a Microsoft server, you get WMV streaming support basically for free. Video may not be the only reason you buy a server, but it's becoming more important and Microsoft's share of the video server market has been very big for a long time. That's why the BBC move is important. It shows that Adobe's solution is superior enough right now for some that the switching costs are worth it. In fact, if you're looking at how Silverlight ties back to the Microsoft mission of "sell more Windows" I think that's part of it. They can't be happy that the server market is starting to move so they had to offer a cross-platform, easy to use, high quality video plugin, which Silverlight is.

Is the BBCs move part of a wider trend? Maybe and maybe not. The downloadable version of the iPlayer still uses Windows Media, so they haven't fully switched. But the BBC has a long history going back and forth on Flash, and anything they do is given a lot of thought. Because this is the BBC, I think the move is more meaningful than other sites and that should be taken into consideration when looking at the landscape.

Topics: Operating Systems, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Servers, Software, Windows

About

Ryan Stewart holds an economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is now a Rich Internet Application developer and industry analyst. After graduating from Penn, he spent two years developing applications for the Wharton School and pushing the idea of the web as a platform for learning. Ryan now lives in Seattle with his wife... Full Bio

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