Launch of Live Interactive Video Player

Friday 29 June 2012, 19:59

Alex Perry Alex Perry Product Manager

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The live, interactive video player combines HD video with cutting edge data to enhance your viewing

I want to tell you about a new live interactive video player that the BBC is launching for this summer's Olympics.

We rolled it out fully today after a period in beta testing when we were able to assess its performance and get your feedback.

As product manager for this player, I've been defining exactly how the finished product should function and what it should look like, working with colleagues from editorial, design and technical teams.

One of the main impetuses behind the project is the incredible video rights package that the BBC holds for London 2012.

The BBC is the sole rights holder for the Olympics in the UK and we are able to offer users live video from every venue on every day of the Games.

That means up to 24 different streams of live sporting action at any one time.

So we wanted to take this opportunity to build a video player that would offer the best possible desktop video viewing experience to do justice to that incredible breadth of live content and would also provide a lasting legacy to BBC Online and our audiences in the years to come.

That means making the video available in high definition and then enhancing it with some extra functionality that in terms of added choice, rivals anything you would have experienced before while watching sport on your TV.

The key features in the new player are:

• Every sport available live and on demand in HD quality on every day of the Games
• Easy switching between up to 24 live streams at any time
• The ability to pause and rewind live video or jump straight to key moments you may have missed by using chapter markers (eg the Men's 100m final)
• Alerts for the key events that have happened or are coming up so you don't miss the moments that matter to you
• Extra facts and info on the sports and competitors you are watching alongside the video

The video player combines the video with the associated data that is available to us, creating a much richer experience for our audiences. The types of information and data provided includes:

Olympics Live: worried you'll miss something happening at another Olympic venue? Olympics Live alerts viewers to interesting moments happening live across the 24 simultaneous streams, making sure you don't miss any key action

Athletes: discover more about the individual athletes, including information on their performance and previous times, while you watch

Sports guides: wonder how a specific sport works? This feature gives you the info about the individual sports, with five key facts offered for every discipline

Match stats: key real-time statistics about the event

Where we are able to show athlete performance data, the key thing is that we synchronise the data and video together so that you always see the stats appropriate for the point in the video that you are watching.

So if you decide to watch a video from the start, we won't give you the results from the end. And if you are watching live, we won't show the result of the Men's 100m before you've had a chance to watch it!

You may already have had a sneak preview of the video player as we've been trialling a beta version on recent events including Formula 1 and Euro 2012.

Today we took the decision to separate Sport's live text commentary page and the video player in order to make sure it is fully tested at load before the Olympics kick off.

For now you will be able to watch in HD quality once the bit rate ramps up, pause or rewind the live action or jump to chapters using the buttons below the timeline.

And by clicking in the top left hand corner you can choose from any of the streams we're offering for Wimbledon, the Euros or our other events on the BBC.

You can watch our video player on your desktop computer and certain tablets that support Flash. On mobiles and iPads you will be able to watch the video but without the extra functionality.

I'd really like to hear back from you about your experience of using the video player.

I'd be particularly interested if you have any problems with the performance of the player or the quality of the video you are seeing.

Alex Perry is Product Manager, Interactive Video Player, BBC News & Knowledge

Watch this video of Gary Lineker explaining the features of the interactive video player.

You must have a TV licence to watch live TV streamed on your computer. A 'live' TV programme is defined as a programme which is watched or recorded at the same time (or virtually the same time) as it is being broadcast.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    I disabled hardware acceleration & it works fine now. Can anyone tell me if having that disabled will adversely effect any other application that I hitherto used?

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    All those who are getting audio but no video - I had exactly the same problem (on Google Chrome 20, IE9 and Firefox), and rectified it by updating my graphics card drivers.

    I have an ATI Mobility Radeon HD5470 which had the latest Dell drivers on it, I updated to the latest generic driver from the ATI website.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Suddenly we can no longer view sport video on an Ipad. It was working earlier today. We can still watch other video. Any ideas?

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Regarding the problem with the Ipad this has now been tracked down to a cookie put on Safari from the BBC site. After this was deleted things went back to normal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    We now have an FAQs page for the player that pulls together answers on the most common questions that people have:

    @lambjon - we are now promoting catch-up content as well as live so you shouldn't miss anything from now on. There will be a short delay between the end of the stream and it becoming available to watch on-demand.

    @ZPVCSPLFUIFDPEF - I'm afraid we can't offer the ability to choose the bitrate you view at currently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    The new player is worse than the old one because it doesn't have full screen video.

    Why don't you make the extras appear when you put the mouse pointer over the bottom of the screen? Then we could have proper full screen video.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I watched both F1 practice sessions today on a terrible broadband connection and it worked fine. The picture quality in full screen was good. There were frequent drop-outs but not as major as on the red button service.

    There was quite a delay between the black box appearing and the actual video having a play option, but I think that is due to my connection.

    I really like the new player, well done!

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    The black bars are a joke whatever the 'extras' may add the BBC are forgetting that the main reason for watching sport is to see the action!

    The picture quality has been excellent (before the launch proper) now it's been ruined by not offering proper full screen video.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    I would like to know if it will be possible to watch the contents from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, please

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    I have solved my audio/no video problem on my Dell Win7-64 laptop with a Radeon 5470 video card. Turing off the Flash hardware acceleration as suggested by Alex and AndyB (51) fixed the problem.
    I also tried DJmarcy's fix (62) with the ATI video driver - the video worked fine with Hardware acceleration re-enabled.
    Thanks for your help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    The black borders are really quite stupid and there must be at least an option to have proper full-screen like before. This so-called 'feature' is unethical from a technical point of view as well. Meaning that - if you do not play a video at it's proper width and height, for example, a 1280x720 video at 1234x678 the GPU (if hardware acceleration is enabled) or CPU (if acceleration is disabled or not available) has to work harder scaling the video to fit the non-standard width and height that the programmers of the ActionScript have defined. Therefore, this increases the chances of complaints of 'lag' from clients with low-specification hardware and quality distortion (pixellation for some clients and interpolation for others).

    The player also causes video corruption on Macintosh computers which did not occur at the time the HD player was being beta tested for the first time in Formula 1 last year (2011). The latest Flash Player 11.3 causes corruption when the HD stream is initialized, but I found out recently that downgrading to Flash Player 10.x causes corruption on a lower quality stream. This is of course very strange behavior - most probably on Adobe's fault, but as usual, this might be an issue that would bounce from Adobe to Apple and back again, and I think we all know how good the relationship is between these two companies.

    I think it is about time the BBC started to adopt HTML5 as Flash is said to be phased out in the next few years. As an ActionScript and JavaScript programmer myself, I get less issues with JavaScript then I do with ActionScript, because I know that problematic code is my fault if run-time results occur on every client browser I test it with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I also want to clarify my issue with the black borders. By 'black borders', I mean, the artificial reduction in video size by the programmers to accomodate this extra 'feature', not the natural scale of video size depending on aspect ratio of display device. I use a 2560x1440 (16:9 aspect ratio) display, and I expect any 16:9 content, wether it may be 640x360, 1280x720 or 1920x1080 to exactly accomodate every pixel of my display as it normally does, which currently - it does not.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Be nice to try this but all I get is
    'We are unable to bring you any video at this time, please try again later'.

    Im on w7 and tried firefox, chrome and safari.

    I loloked at the faq, but there wasnt much in there apart from some pretty lame tweaks, which seem more a fault of the webpage design than the user.
    Didnt understand the tv license bit in there, must be error.

    Will this be available on the ipad?

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    just tried this with the open golf this morning
    looking good on firefox 14
    it crashes on w7 using latest chrome browser though, when i clicked on extras.

    shame this does not work with popout
    the extras is a bit naff really. i like the rewind option and the channel changer (when olympics is live), but the extra information is not really needed and the extra interface is a bit odd looking design wise

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    another annoyance, when you change from one live video to another the volume resets, can your volume preference not be saved?
    i was flicking to different open golf live action here

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Is there any way of accessing the iplayer when you are outside the UK?? I will be working during most of the Games and would really like to be able to access it live online.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.


    Thank you for your question.

    Sorry, but BBC iPlayer Help says:

    Rights agreements mean that BBC iPlayer television programmes are only available to users in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    It's great to see the BBC providing the best ever coverage of the Olympic Games up to date and up to date with the latest modern technologies to show the Olympics on all platforms across the BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.


    Is this player available for Ubuntu Linux?


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