New version of BBC iPlayer for PS3 now available
(This blog post is about a web-based version of BBC iPlayer launched in 2009. You may also be interested in the BBC iPlayer application for PS3, designed for the remote control in the living room, that was launched August 8th 2011 - inserted Ian McDonald 12 Aug 2011)
Good news for PS3 owners - last week we released an updated version of iPlayer that offers improved video quality and an enhanced user interface.
We first released a version of iPlayer for PS3 about a year ago. It worked pretty well, but back then the PS3 used an older version of Flash that didn't support H.264 playback and didn't support full-screen mode, which somewhat limited the playback experience we could provide.
A few months ago Sony released an updated version of Flash that provided support for H.264 content. However, that version of Flash was still unable to play back our higher quality streams at the full frame rate of 25fps.
Since then, Sony have done a great job of enhancing the PS3's Flash playback experience, and the latest V3.0 firmware update now includes hardware acceleration in full-screen mode, allowing for a substantial improvement in the playback experience.
Over the past year, we've also done a lot of tuning and enhancements to our iPlayer video encoding, including adding a new 1500Kbps "SD quality" format. Put the two together and the result is an iPlayer on PS3 with brilliant video quality - almost as good as broadcast television!
As part of the V3.0 firmware update, Sony have added a big iPlayer icon to the PS3's cross-media bar, giving easy one-click access to iPlayer:
As well as optimising the video quality, we've also optimised our "designed for TV viewing" BigScreen interface in a new larger size to take advantage of the extra real estate offered on high-def displays:
iPlayer BigScreen interface on 576p screens
iPlayer BigScreen interface on 720p and 1080p screens
You can see these two interfaces in action by going to http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen in your regular browser, then resizing your browser window larger or smaller to simulate our BigScreen interface at various PS3 resolutions. You'll see the interface automatically resize itself to the large size once your browser width reaches 1280 pixels (the best way to experience our BigScreen interface on a PC is to hit F11 to maximise your browser window).
By the way, you can experience our BigScreen version of iPlayer on your PC as well - just head over to http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen on any computer. Connect your computer's video out to your TV set and use our BigScreen interface to play your favourite programmes on demand from the comfort of your couch.
Finally, some iPlayer on PS3 tips and tricks:
1. If the iPlayer icon doesn't appear in the XMB
Some users have reported that the iPlayer icon hasn't appeared after they've installed the V3.0 firmware update, so if you're not seeing the iPlayer icon here's what to do:
- Sign up for the PSN network (it's free) using a UK address, which seems to be a requirement for getting the iPlayer icon to appear.
- Reboot (important). You should now see the iPlayer icon in the XMB.
- If you still don't see the iPlayer icon, check the serial number on the back of your PS3 - it should end with CECH-XXX3, where the "3" indicates a UK model. Only UK models get the iPlayer icon, meaning that if you purchased your PS3 abroad or through a retailer that imported non-UK models then you won't get an iPlayer icon.
- If the iPlayer icon still doesn't appear, don't worry about it - you can get exactly the same iPlayer experience by launching the PS3 browser and going directly to the iPlayer site at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer
2. Easy way to exit and re-enter full-screen mode
On the PS3, to exit full-screen mode, double-click the "X" key on the PS3 remote.
To re-enter full-screen mode, position the mouse pointer over the video (which will now be playing in a small window in the BigScreen site) and double-click "X" again.
3. Turn off the screensaver
By default the PS3 screensaver kicks in after 20 minutes, dimming the screen right in the middle of your favourite programme. So you might want to disable the screensaver: Settings > Display Settings > Screensaver
Over the coming weeks we'll be adding some extra functionality and fixing a few glitches in the UI.
User response to our new iPlayer for PS3 has been amazing. Although it's less than a week since we launched, iPlayer on PS3 now accounts for a massive ~10% of all iPlayer viewing, overtaking Mac (8.5%) to be our 2nd most popular platform for IP-delivered content. We'll have to wait and see whether this holds up in the coming weeks, but this enthusiastic reception makes it clear that users do want iPlayer on their TV - something that bodes well for Canvas and other IPTV propositions.
Anthony Rose is Controller, Online Media Group and Vision, BBC FM&T