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The new iPlayer on the Nintendo Wii

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Rahul Chakkara Rahul Chakkara | 17:45 UK time, Friday, 13 November 2009

Tuesday 17 November 2009, Editor's update: We've now been supplied images taken from the Wii so have taken down the designer's mock ups and posted five of the latest images at the end of the post. (PM)

We have just announced the release of a new version of BBC iPlayer for Nintendo Wii. The new version is a Flash based application using the newly released Video on Demand Framework (VODF) from Nintendo. From 18 November you can find and install the BBC iPlayer application from the Wii shop at no cost. This version replaces the previous browser based version.

There were multiple challenges on this project. The design challenge was to make the iPlayer work on the television screen in a simple way. The team streamlined the user journeys. We have used the rumble feature on the controller to give feedback. A search feature allows you to find the content easily. The design team went through multiple iterations; user testing and got to what I believe is an experience you would like.

The technical challenges were many. The technical teams had to optimise and innovate in every part of the technical chain to make iPlayer work on an embedded device. Due to the limited processing power and memory available on these types of devices, most of the effort went into optimising data requests, minimising client side processing, reducing network traffic and balancing the remaining processing power available for video decoding with interface and interaction features.

This release is part of a challenging programme to expand the reach of BBC iPlayer in the living room by syndicating it on television devices and platforms. I will keep you updated.

Rahul Chakkara is Controller, TV Platforms, BBC FM&T.

17 November 2009, new images from the Wii added below:







  • Comment number 1.

    A few questions:

    How will iPlayer on Wii deal with chapterisation, as we've seen on 5Live and some TV shows like Spooks?
    Will future updates for the channel be delivered by redownloading the channel, or will it just load new stuff from the server?
    What's the bitrate/compression/format/clever words etc of the video files streamed in this in comparison to the current browser based version?
    And finally, you do realise Zane is on R1, right? :P

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh, and one more I forgot as I'm an idiot, is this currently only on-demand content, any plans for live streaming (even of just radio)?

  • Comment number 3.

    This is great news, I am looking forward to giving this a try. I do wonder though if there are any plans in the pipeline to possibly offer the BBC iPlayer on the XBOX 360 like Sky do with the Sky Player (it would be great to be able to watch HD content from the BBC without having to get Freesat, Sky HD or Virgin HD).


  • Comment number 4.

    This is a note in the Dot Life blog about mobile license payers.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/ has a link in the page and there is a link on the blog list...this is a rather poor example of linking!

  • Comment number 5.

    What bitrate is this content? Is it the same as the Wii's browser version?

    Have you considered the possibility of using WiiConnect24 to let people download shows, perhaps in a higher quality?

  • Comment number 6.

    Slightly disappointed with this and the press release. Both headlines suggest that I can watch the iPlayer on my Wii right now, but I need to wait until the 18th until this is actually possible.
    Please get your tenses correct, and hopefully the 18th won't take too long to arrive.

  • Comment number 7.

    I used to own a Wii and the iPlayer via the browser was ok. I hope this is smoother and less prone to sluggish playback.

    I use the PS3 for most of my iPlayer action now. So far it's been fantastic. Now if only I could access HD content ideally via download I would be over the moon. I'm sure it will be here soon, mayeb with the new Video store?

    Finger Crossed!

  • Comment number 8.

    1. At 6:25pm on 13 Nov 2009, JonathanExplorer wrote:

    "...And finally, you do realise Zane is on R1, right? :P"

    Hi JonathanExplorer
    Well spotted. I checked with Rahul this morning and the images in the piece are mock ups of the designs for the Wii rarher than actual screenshots. So either the designer got confused in flipping between layers in Photoshop or they know more about Zane's future than the rest of us. ;-)

    Also hoping to be able to do a new post with answers to the rest of the questions shortly.

    Cheers all


  • Comment number 9.

    As Sky has recently released a live and on demand service on the Xbox 360 how long will it be until the BBC offer the same service? Obviously it would require both the BBC and Microsoft to work together on this but has it been thought about?

    I believe there was an article not so long ago that said that the BBC would be bringing the iPlayer service to any devices with over 600,000 users. This amount is easily covered by the Xbox 360.

    It would be interesting to know if it is the BBC or Microsoft who are stopping this from happening and what the reasoning behind it is.

  • Comment number 10.

    Just watched a program on the new Wii iPlayer Channel and I am very impressed. The quality is much better than the old browser based iPlayer, roughly equivalent to watching a VHS video. I can't wait to try it on my main widescreen tv. Congratulations to all concerned.

  • Comment number 11.

    Great job iPlayer team...the Wii iPlayer works a treat!

    Video is very smooth 99.9% of the time. Picture quality is fine for a catch up service too (watching on 37" plasma). I'm using a wired ethernet connection as I never found the Wii's wireless reception that good. I hope people don't suffer from constant buffering because of poor wireless and blame it on the application.

    Beers all round for the iPlayer team!

  • Comment number 12.

    I had a quick play with the Wii iPlayer (WiiPlayer?) this morning before heading off to work. You can read my quick review here: https://aoakley.livejournal.com/246727.html

  • Comment number 13.

    To agree with the previous posters this is a great improvement, considering the hardware and bandwidth limitations. Looks pretty good on a 42" LCD TV, hats off to the BBC Engineering team.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks BBC. The promise of a fix for Wii users "by the end of the year" has been honoured, with six weeks to spare. Much appreciated.

  • Comment number 15.

    Clearly a lot of work has gone into this, so thanks to the relevant people for that. It's a definite improvement.

    The fact that this is Flash-based makes me die a little inside, though. Flash is such inefficient, rubbish software -- is there no other way this can be done? Feels like the video quality could be so much better if Flash weren't part of the equation.

  • Comment number 16.

    I spent 15 minutes this morning testing the iPlayer - all I can say is what an improvment over the old version. It means the Wii will get used again now!

    Would love to see the HD BBC iPlayer for the XBox360 - is there any chance??

  • Comment number 17.

    Looks great here! phantomgorilla - do you actually know what flash is or how it works or performs, especially in relation to streaming video.

    (That was a rhetorical question - clearly, you don't).

  • Comment number 18.

    This is a great way to watch iplayer content on a proper TV, a huge improvement over the old Internet Channel method.

    Well done BBC!

    PS Will subtitling be available in the future?

  • Comment number 19.

    I think the new Wii iplayer channel is fantastic. My family and I are thoroughly enjoying catching up on BBC programme we've missed on the TV rather than just the tiny laptop. Great job! I don't know of this is the right place to mention it but here is my constructive feedback: It would be great to have proper fastforward and rewind buttons (a 30 second rewind would be useful too, when the bay cries at the crucial moment!). I have found the stability/buffering good on my O2 wireless broadband, though occasionally a programme fails to load up and I have to reboot, though when it has successfully loaded I have not had any fail subsequently. The picture quality is certainly adequate though any improvement would be appreciated. I have found the search feature a bit hit and miss. Some of the programmes I can easily find on other platforms fail to come up on the Wii search and I have to find the schedule date and time to load the programme that way. Finally, do you guys know if any other broadcasters are planning on adding a Wii channel to their on-demand services?

    Thanks again,


  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    Will this service only be available to UK residents or have the BBC any plans to extend it to other countries? like ROI?

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm interested to know the technical differences between the BBC and Netflix solutions. Particularly, as early reports from the US indicate that they are getting DVD quality - far better than the soft image and poor sound quality iPlayer delivers today on the Wii. We watched Dr Who last night, and there was an annoying whine that kept appearing in the sound track, and that's on a 5mbps ADSL link.

    Why the great difference? Do they buffer longer to improve quality? Can we have that option too, please?



  • Comment number 24.

    Apologies about beloabouting the point.. but there are open-source developers out there who could help you in this regard.. if the Beeb would let them.

    A little quid pro quo would help and you could have Dink and others on board in a heartbeat... Flash is a CPU hog at the best of times...

    Tell you what - how about opening up the discussion with them (and less of the NDAs please)... they could give you a hand with ripping the H264 and AAC streams out of the Flash stream natively... you could possibly offer the Wii feed to XBMC in turn. What do you say, MR Hunter et al?

    Oh- how about offering full-quality iPlayer output to Totem users as well?

    Wasn't the main gripe about rights as related to device class? Seeing that XBMC was viewed as an STB..maybe offer an STB-class feed to XBMC?

    Just a thought...

  • Comment number 25.

    when can we see a version for iPad? I am asking because that is the future


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