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BBC to upgrade iPlayer for 2012 Olympics

The BBC has just issued a £300,000 Request For Proposal (RFP) for a new higher capacity version of its iPlayer catch-up service to be ready for the 2012 Olympics in London. Full details are not available, but the RFP is understood to cover the software for a version of iPlayer capable of delivering Olympic content in HD to multiple screens and perhaps supporting greater levels of interactivity via the website.

The timing is interesting because the BBC had announced in February 2011 that the thousands of hours of 2012 Olympics footage it will have but will be unable to broadcast live would be available on the iPlayer. At that time, the assumption was that the iPlayer's successor would emerge as part of the YouView project shared jointly by the BBC with other major partners including the UK's incumbent telecommunications operator, BT, commercial free-to-air broadcaster ITV, and broadband operator Talk Talk. YouView is due to be launched in February 2012, so the BBC's decision to upgrade iPlayer may suggest it is not confident it will be fully operational in time for the Olympics. It may also signal concern that YouView risks being bogged down by conflicts between the partners with their varying commercial interests.