05.10.2004 12:00 PM
BBC tests TV distribution over the Internet

Later this month, the BBC will launch a pilot project that could lead to all of its television programs being made available on the Internet.

The project, described in a report by the New Zealand Herald, will allow viewers to scan a guide on their computer screens and download any show they want to see. Programs will be viewable on a computer screen or could be burned onto a DVD to be watched through a television set. Alternatively, shows could be downloaded onto a personal digital assistant (PDA), a small hand-held computer.

The plan was conceived by Ashley Highfield, the BBC’s director of new media and technology, who discussed it with the Herald. “If we don’t enter this market, then exactly what happened to the music industry could happen to us, where we ignore it, keep our heads in the sand and everybody starts posting the content up there and ripping us off,” he said.

Highfield said the quality of the programs will be so high that the experience of watching a show on a PDA will be similar to that of viewing an in-flight film on an aircraft. The three-week pilot — called iMP (Internet Media Player) — will allow a selected group of 500 of the BBC’s staff to participate.

“The quality is staggeringly good,” Highfield said. “It’s slightly better than you get on the seat backs if you are in a plane, although PDAs have a slightly smaller screen. With your headphones on, it’s totally watchable.”

After the BBC pilot, an external trial will be launched with 1000 people picked from subscribers with broadband service providers AOL, BT and Tiscali. The trial will examine whether people watch more television with iMP and if they change viewing patterns.

“If the feedback is strongly positive, we will have to look at how we clear bulk content and how we start to roll this out widely,” Highfield said.

The plan is to make all BBC television programs from the previous week available on the Internet via a program guide similar to that already used by digital television viewers.

The iMP project is driven by research that shows that people increasingly find it difficult to align their free-time with fixed TV schedules, the Herald reported. Homes with personal video recorders (PVRs) such as Sky Plus already “time-shift” 70 percent of the programs they watch to more convenient viewing times.

“Amongst younger audiences, television is having to compete against other media as well, not just different channels but trying to get eyeballs away from PlayStations and the Internet,” said Highfield.

Back to the top

Post New Comment
If you are already a member, or would like to receive email alerts as new comments are
made, please login or register.

Enter the code shown above:

(Note: If you cannot read the numbers in the above
image, reload the page to generate a new one.)

No Comments Found

Tuesday 03:07 PM
WMUR-TV Says FAA Drone Rules Preclude ENG
The FAA’s current rules and proposed ban on flight over people, requirement of visual line of sight and restriction on nighttime flying, effectively prohibit broadcasters from using UAS for newsgathering. ~ WMUR-TV General Manager Jeff Bartlett

D. Pagan Communications /   Friday 10:35 AM
Blue Line is Hot on the Trail of DPA Microphones
Clyne Media, Inc /   Thursday 09:51 PM
Focusrite Expands RedNet Range

Featured Articles
Discover TV Technology