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iPlayer and Kangaroo

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Ashley Highfield | 14:39 UK time, Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Some of you may have noticed the announcement today that BBC Worldwide has joined forces with other UK broadcasters to offer a commercial portal to British television programmes.

I believe that it is much better for the BBC, ITV and C4 to have a say in a distribution service rather than leave it just to the likes of Joost or Babelgum to own the relationship with our audiences after the public service window. Better for our audiences too, as more money will return to the BBC from ad revenues to be invested into new programming.

kangaroo_175.pngI believe Kangaroo (only a working title), is complementary, and quite different, from BBC iPlayer.

BBC iPlayer offers a totally free seven-day catch up service (which very soon will offer streaming as well as downloading) to UK licence fee payers, with no advertising. It will soon also incorporate the highly successful BBC Radio Player (Kangaroo is video only).

BBC iPlayer is all about universality, so there will be versions for Mac & Linux (whatever you've heard to the contrary). We can and will cross-promote to the seven day catchup service on BBC iPlayer from our TV channels and radio stations. iPlayer will, in turn, provide an important route into Kangaroo content.

And one of the biggest differences is that iPlayer offers a rolling seven day window of some 400 hours (and rising) of the latest BBC programming, whereas Kangaroo will offer some 10,000 (and rising) hours in a permanent database of programmes.

Perhaps the most important distinction, though, is that BBC iPlayer is a part of bbc.co.uk, the UK's third most popular website; and iPlayer isn't just a stand-alone application - it will provide a single, consistent user experience for the majority of streamed programmes (video and audio) on bbc.co.uk. It will also be embedded into our partners' offers, such as Virgin Media cable TV service, telegraph.co.uk, and many others.

It's critical that we engage with all UK licence fee payers, wherever they are and however they consume our services. And it's critical that those services are not detrimentally disintermediated by other platforms and gateways - audiences must be aware that they are watching or listening to programmes and services from the BBC: in other words, that we have a deepening, direct relationship with them which is increasingly two-way.

That way we can guarantee the quality of the experience, learn more about what our audiences like (and don't like), in order to keep the BBC relevant in their increasingly digital lives.

To use an analogue metaphor: If BBC iPlayer is like BBC TV, Kangaroo is more like UKTV. There is space for both: indeed, they're complementary.

Ashley Highfield is Director, BBC Future Media and Technology.

Comments

  1. At 04:21 PM on 27 Nov 2007, simon hb wrote:

    When iPlayer swallows the Radio Player, will that leave Mac users unable to use that service, too? And will it still be using real player or are we going to have to downgrade to Windows Media?

  2. At 04:43 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Andy wrote:
    BBC iPlayer is all about universality, so there will be versions for Mac & Linux (whatever you've heard to the contrary).

    If it's Universal what about BSD?
    What about Solaris and SunOS?
    What about non x86 chipsets?
    (e.g. ARM, MIPS, SPARC, PowerPC, etc.)

    What about mobile phones?

    What about companies who implement close to the hardware level who find the BBC's attempt at coding has an awful performance overhead (the overhead of running the whole of WinXP compared with raw video decoding with no-OS, and specialist graphics hardware is staggering).

    It's critical that we engage with all UK license fee payers, wherever they are and however they consume our services.

    You forgot to add: "Provided they purchase their equipment from our commercial partners", or am I missing the Linux and Mac downloads somewhere?

    And why precisely does iPlayer block Mozilla Friefox? Other than it not being owned by Microsoft of course. Oddly you blocked not only free software but any other media player vendor aswell, purely because "they are not Microsoft". It really is a pure miracle that the documentation for iPlayer isn't in Microsoft Word format.

    audiences must be aware that they are watching or listening to programmes and services from the BBC

    How could they ever forget that, while listening to a BBC podcast I counted the words "BBC", or the station ident 6 times in a minute. I HAVE A MEMORY LONGER THAN 10 SECONDS EVEN IF YOU DON'T.

  3. At 05:51 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Tim Dobson wrote:

    As the person who commented before and suggested an interview with Groklaw might be in order,
    I wonder what platform this will be based on. I sincerely hope that the BBC and it's partners have realised that a Free Software solution based on open standards and cross Platform compatibility would be the the most symbiotic implementation, respecting the user's freedom.
    I actually do agree with Andy's point in the second comment; as far as I am aware I can't use full blown iplayer at this moment in time, and that should I move to GNU/OpenSolaris I may be faced with an impossible solution: ie. no solution.
    What are you, personally, doing to ensure that this project respects the user's freedom as much as possible?
    I would be more than happy to enter into a dialogue to advise you on these issues, if you feel that would be helpful.

  4. At 06:02 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Nick Reynolds (editor) wrote:

    Andy - Comment 2 - Ashley has addressed your question about "commercial partners" in this Groklaw interview

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20071118205358171

  5. At 06:09 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Dave Crossland wrote:
    BBC iPlayer is all about universality, so there will be versions for Mac & Linux (whatever you've heard to the contrary).

    I am sad to see a version of the iPlayer with DRM being made available for GNU/Linux, because DRM is antithetical to the ideas of software freedom that underpin the system.

    (Please refer to the GNU/Linux operating system as GNU/Linux, not just "Linux," because it is unfair to the GNU project which started the development of the system. http://www.gnu.org/gnu/why-gnu-linux.html has the full explanation.)

  6. At 07:35 PM on 27 Nov 2007, J Davies wrote:

    Ashley, will Kangaroo be cross platform? As has been mentioned before, there is really no reason for it not to be.

    Dave Crossland, the BBC is actually in a bit of a bind with this, they are required to provide a version of iPlayer for Linux but iPlayer has to have DRM for the majority of the content. Personally, I think that DRM will slowly die because of the problems it causes users and the fact that it can never really be secure.

    Andy, if a Linux version is produced, it should not be too difficult to port to most other *nix (though it isn't necessarily trivial).

  7. At 09:55 PM on 29 Nov 2007, Chris Rowe wrote:

    I sincerely hope that the BBC will work with Kangaroo to ensure there are no cross delivery issues, that seem to affect iPlayer and 4oD on the same machine.

    I can understand the reasons behind the split, but just hope that compatibility between multiple players doesn't cause the end user confusion and bother.

    Finally .... make sure it can be removed from machines cleanly .... unlike the iPlayer and 4oD.


  8. At 05:41 PM on 30 Nov 2007, martin spedding wrote:

    Hi,

    thanks for the information. By the way I really wish you would stop using the Realaudio player. I really hate having to install it. On a more serious note, is it possible that "Kangaroo" will offer a service for people outside the UK who are willing to pay for the service ? My only problem with DRM is that it should be associated with the person and not the device. If I buy something I want the right to move it between devices and potentially formats. It is not DRM that is the problem but the way it is being used.

    Martin

  9. At 08:53 PM on 30 Nov 2007, James Taylor wrote:

    "I believe that it is much better for the BBC, ITV and C4 to have a say in a distribution service rather than leave it just to the likes of Joost or Babelgum to own the relationship with our audiences after the public service window."

    Eh?

  10. At 06:34 PM on 14 Apr 2008, Adam wrote:

    Please can you integrate it with itunes.

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