BBC iPlayer to stream video in Flash

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.

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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

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4 comments
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  • hmm...

    This may just be stop-gap to keep the BBC Board of Trustees, the Government, and various other concerned groups happy. The BBC is funded-by a television-tax and so was rightly lambasted by one and all for producing a Windows-only "iPlayer"; ie effectively endorsing a single software manufacturer and a monopolist at that. The BBC have been told they must produce an "iPlayer" that is open to other platforms.
    With the number of former Microsofties the Beeb has hired recently its unlikely that they will ultimately ditch WMV in favour of Flash.
    Instead using Flash gets the Trustees off their back until Silverlight is a proven product. (We all know it takes Microsoft until V3 of anything new before it is usable.)
    sj_z
    • RE: hmm...

      The article that came out yesterday seemed to indicate that. And that's a good thought on having some time to wait until Silverlight is mature.
      ryanstewart
  • RE: BBC iPlayer to stream video in Flash

    Platform neutral sounds good to me, but only so long as they leave the audio as is or my wifi radio will be useless.
    Manksman
    Manksman
    • RE: RE: BBC iPlayer to stream video in Flash

      I assume they're not touching the audio. ;)
      ryanstewart