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Update: BBC iPlayer on Freesat

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Andrew Bowden Andrew Bowden | 13:18 UK time, Monday, 11 January 2010

homepage_freesat_600.jpgDecember 2009 saw the latest addition to the BBC iPlayer family, with the start of a beta evaluation period for Freesat devices.

This is the first time that we've delivered a service as complicated as BBC iPlayer onto a normal, household set top box or TV set, and we initially restricted the beta to a closed group of users.

Since then many Freesat users have been asking when they'll be able to try it for themselves, and as our testing has been going well we're making the beta product available more widely, and you're invited!

To take part, you'll need a Humax branded Freesat HD or Freesat+ set top box and a broadband connection of at least 1Mbps. You'll also need to connect your set top box to your broadband connection - visit Freesat's website for detailed instructions, which also contains a help video as well.

Once your box is connected, to access BBC iPlayer you just need to:

  • Tune into any BBC channel and press the red button

  • When the BBC Red Button homepage loads, type in the code 5483 and press OK. You'll see a message that says "Number not found" however don't worry about that.

After a few seconds, BBC iPlayer will appear on screen.

Whilst currently the Freesat version of BBC iPlayer is currently available on Humax set top boxes, it will become available to all Freesat HD set top boxes and Freesat HD TVs as soon as possible over the coming months - including all HD boxes and TVs with Freesat built in from launch. Please note the Freesat SD boxes won't work with BBC iPlayer at any point. In the meantime, if you have a different Freesat device to the Humax equipment then I'm afraid BBC iPlayer is not available.

During the beta period, we'll be working hard to make fixes and improvements and we'll continue to blog about our progress. Naturally we're interested in finding out about your experiences using the service - hopefully all good however if you have any problems, we'd also like to know as well. Just leave us a comment below.

Andrew Bowden is Senior Producer, TV Platforms team, BBC Future Media & Technology.


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  • Comment number 1.

    I'm pleased with iplayer service on my HUMAX-HD freesat box.

    Any idea when BBC1/2 Scotland schedules will be available?

  • Comment number 2.

    This is about IPTV (televisions/receivers with the, built in, ability to display internet protocol data streams), not iPlayer being available via satellite, which is the implied meaning of the blog title! Nor is iPlayer a platform specific only service. Please stop miss leading people just to market the commercial Freesat branding, anyone can access the iPlayer with a suitably internet connected computer, anyone can watch iPlayer via a computer that has a TV out card... Also, and unless the BBC is going to cripple the iPlayer any television receiving device that is also IP enabled will be able to access and display iPlayer content.


  • Comment number 3.

    *Sigh* I hate to think about the effort to create this when Media Centre users are quickly becoming the forgotten segment (despite growth in use of Media Centre) and are still without an iPlayer implementation via the 10ft UI.

    Surely if you've got the time to create iPlayer for a (very small) segment such as Freesat User with new Humax boxes, you can knock something together for WMC?

  • Comment number 4.

    Digital Knave look up TunerFree MCE on Google.

  • Comment number 5.

    Uk_abz_scot - the various BBC One and BBC Two variations is something we're going to be looking in to in a later release.

    Boilerplated - In this case, the Freesat version of BBC iPlayer has been build specifically for the platform, rather than being a re-working of the main website - similar to what we've built on Virgin Media. It's built using MHEG, which is the language we use for all red button services on the platform. The MHEG version on Freesat has been expanded to include various internet protocols - so we can pull files off a standard web server for the first time on a standard household set top box, and all without any HTML or JavaScript. This is the first time we've deployed an application that mixes MHEG with an internet connection, so it's a big thing for us.

    You're right in that the application is not available via satellite - once its launched, the whole thing is delivered by the internet. However it will require a satellite signal in order to actually launch it as it will be (once out of beta) launched from the red button.

    We're committed to making BBC iPlayer available on all sorts of television devices, and to that end our team is building three generic applications which will work on different set top boxes. The Freesat version will become our generic MHEG product, and will be available on Freeview HD in the future - neither of which have the ability to render HTML, JavaScript or Flash.

    There will also be a Flash version and a HTML version - the latter of which I'm also working on. Rahul Chakkara blogged about those versions in November, and his post has more information on them.

    Digital Knave - I'm afraid Windows Media Centre isn't something the TV Platforms team work on - we just do television devices rather than PCs connected to TVs. However I'll see if I can find someone who might be able to help.

  • Comment number 6.

    #3. At 2:33pm on 11 Jan 2010, Digital Knave wrote:

    "Surely if you've got the time to create iPlayer for a (very small) segment such as Freesat User with new Humax boxes, you can knock something together for WMC?"

    Or indeed any open source HTPC [1] style media player, but then there is no money to be made by broadcasters and manufactures via a commercial partnership around the commercial Freesat branding etc...

    Sorry "Digital Knave" but I would not hold your breath to long in the hope that the BBC will do anything special for open source media players [2], not when the BBC acts more like a commercial company than a corporation owned by the British People - aka the licence fee payer. :-(

    [1] Home Theatre PC (HTPC) or Media PC

    [2] it took a certain amount of internal and external pressure for the BBC to port iPlayer to needs of the Linux/Unix community if I remember correctly

  • Comment number 7.

    Just out of interest, what is it that the rest of the manufacturers have to do to get iPlayer working on their freesat receivers? I have a Sony box - any idea how long it might take before we can make use of it on there?

  • Comment number 8.

    "It's [the iPlayer version for use on the Freesat platform] built using MHEG, which is the language we use for all red button services on the platform." ...//... "You're right in that the application is not available via satellite - once its launched, the whole thing is delivered by the internet. However it will require a satellite signal in order to actually launch it as it will be (once out of beta) launched from the red button."

    So not only has it been built using a non (truly open) IP standard but has been crippled in so much as it will need a suitable DVB-S device to launch it... Next question, will the required source code etc. be available to the open platform DVB-S manufactures or will it require being paid-up 'member' of the commercial Freesat brand/licensing?

    Quite frankly if the BBC doesn't mind out the BBC iPlayer could well be to this decade what the Betamax/VHS format war was to the '70s...

    Sorry but I for one am loosing faith with the BBC, a long defender of the BBC and the way it's funded but the increasing commercialisation of the BBC (directly via BBC Worldwide etc. and indirectly though it's associations with content suppliers and device manufactures) the more I'm having to question the BBC's funding method of making (suspected) criminals out of people who do not have for what ever reason a valid TVL. [/digress]

  • Comment number 9.

    I've been using the beta version on my HumaxHD+ box since just after Christmas on a 2Mb broadband line and it works a treat.

    I'm quite surprised at the quality, near SD with good stereo sound and no interuptions other than minor pixelation when my wife is browsing the internet or chatting to her friends with Facebook.

    Can we have some radio in the future?

    So far, well done BBC.

  • Comment number 10.

    David C - each manufacturer needs to update their set top box firmware with the internet extensions, so in the next month or two you'll find your TV/set top box gets an update and then BBC iPlayer will start working. I'll make sure we let you know as manufacturers get added.

    Boilerplated - it hasn't been crippled. It's just that the loading mechanism is currently initiated by some code in the broadcast satellite stream. It doesn't always need to be like that - it's just how it is now.

    Will it be available to other DVB-S devices? Well if someone builds a non-Freesat device that runs the MHEG code, then it would be - the service will be accessed via the BBC Red Button homepage so it is feasible.

    Our aim is to build a standards compliant MHEG application that will run on any suitable MHEG device/software. At the minute, our roadmap contains Freesat HD devices, with Freeview HD later. However it doesn't need to stop there at all. If, for example, the Myth TV MHEG rendering engine is updated and can run this version of BBC iPlayer, then that's absolutely fine by me!

    TVheveanorhell - glad to hear it's working well for you. Radio is indeed something we're going to look at in a future release.

  • Comment number 11.

    Are there any plans to launch HD material on Iplayer for Freesat soon, it would be great to watch BBC HD on catchup for those who do not want to record on a freesat pvr.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great, thanks for the reply. Looking forward to getting it, nice work :-)

  • Comment number 13.

    10. At 4:52pm on 11 Jan 2010, Andrew Bowden wrote:

    "Boilerplated - it hasn't been crippled. It's just that the loading mechanism is currently initiated by some code in the broadcast satellite stream. It doesn't always need to be like that - it's just how it is now."

    OK, so it's just crippled at the moment and might not be at some unspecified point in the future... :-)

    But seriously (and perhaps I'm being, OK I'll admit it, a little thick or overly cynical here), why the need for accessing the IP part of the TV via "by some code in the broadcast satellite stream", you would never suggest that one needs to "Press Red" to access a PVR device, no it would just be another button or set of buttons (as I understand is the case with Sky+) on the remote. Care to explain just why the iPlayer needs to access the receivers DVB "iServices" function considering that content delivery is via an IP stream - meaning surely that all it needs to do is access a given external (or internal, firmware set) URL? From were I'm sitting at the moment it certainly looks more like a Freesat marketing ploy as I've already said.

  • Comment number 14.

    about devices My TV is an Apple Mini linked to two display devices, one a projector so I already catch up via the iplayer and the computer. I cannot locate a suitable HD compliant satellite card to put in the pc to play on that.I don't want an integrated TV thanks.

  • Comment number 15.

    Can you please advise on average how much data does the Freesat I player service use on the standard and High quality setting, If you could confirm the stream rate for the techies and also in simple terms how much per hour so those on download limits can keep any eye on how much they are using.
    Also maybe in future editions that could be included on programme screens so people can see how much data they are going to use before viewing especially as some companies traffic shape after a certain amount.

  • Comment number 16.

    Fantastic piece of software.. works perfectly occationally menus a bit slow but that's to be expected.. but overall just fantastic.

    But a quick question if you will, why do all bbc interactive services seem to be in 4:3. Is this due to technical issues or just what type of tv the majority have?

  • Comment number 17.

    I am very disappointd about the delay in the rollout to other TV's- I got all geared up with homeplugs and new router for the advertised pre Christmas launch of this service. Then the Humax box code was leaked on forums and everything ground to a halt. Surely the TV manufacturers = only three at this stage- who have freesat built in= can get the software upgrade out?

  • Comment number 18.

    So a follow-up to my previous comment

    @cbridge - Yes I know about TunerFree MCE but its not by the BBC and not supported by them.

    As for the TV Paltforms team not working on Media Centre they certainly used to. For quite a while there was an app in the (then) spotlight section in the Media Centre menus for the BBC which allowed you to watch past shows. In fact I think it was even driven by an early version of the iPlayer.

  • Comment number 19.

    This rocks.

    Loving the higher quality streams - sitting on my sofa, can't tell the difference between this and regular TV

    Menus are a bit slow, but I'm sure that can be sorted. It'll be great when it gets rolled out other devices as well.

  • Comment number 20.

    cor, no pleasing some folk. Take no notice, Beebers

    We tried it last night. The hard-part was acquiring a 10m ethernet cable, and then turning up at home and explaining how introducing this new cable to the front room was a vital moment in the history of broadcasting.

    Once plugged in, it works a treat. As others have said, not quite as good quality as broadcast, miles better than the Wii that we've been using for the last year.

    I was initially disappointed, as the menus seem quite pixellated, at least on ours. Is this because it's using the Red-Button software, rather than a web page?

    However, the actual service is great. Well done to everyone involved - you're quite right to release as early as possible on the devices that are ready now, and then to learn, improve and rollout for as many other devices as possible. You're never going to please everyone, as we can see, but that doesn't mean you're not doing the right thing in the right way.

    The success and incredibly wide-range of iPlayer services is testament to this strategy

  • Comment number 21.

    Zubeirp - for HD we need to see how much bandwidth we'd need to stream a picture of the quality required for HD, and that may be more than most peoples internet connections can cope with. However it's something we will look into.

    Boilerplated - when we launch the application from the broadcast service, it does just use a URL. In theory that URL could be integrated into a device's menu structure - maybe even on a remote control button - if it was built to support it. Launching from the red button is something we know quite a lot about and can make it work quickly and easily - and this is how we do it on Virgin as well. However alternative access points are something we're going to look into in a future release.

    Speedwayfan22 - the video bitrates are 800kbps for the standard quality and 1500kbps for the higher quality. Based on those bitrates we recommend at least a 1Mb broadband connection for standard, and 2Mb for higher.

    I'm not very good at these conversions, so I resorted to an bandwidth conversion calculator to work this out. According to it, an hour of the standard quality video works out at 360Mb, and an hour of higher quality 675Mb.

    David - I've had a half written blog post on my hard drive about the 4:3 issue which I've been meaning to complete for months! Basically Sky, Freeview and Virgin Media boxes are restricted to a 720x576 screensize for red button applications - which is 4:3. Freesat boxes also offer 720x576, however also offer us the option of coding in a HD graphics plane - 1280x720 or 1920x1080 - and using these is something we're going to look into for future services on the platform after we've had time to do some research into how the boxes and TVs display it with different TVs.

    Dadaf - I know everyone's working hard to get the updates out, and it will happen. All the manufacturers are hard at work on it and you'll hopefully see something happen very soon.

    Digital Knave - I know someone in the BBC has done some Media Centre work in the past, however it wasn't the TV Platforms department, but another part of the BBC. I think it was part of the BBC Online team however I'm not really sure.

    Riotgibbon - I'm not entirely sure what you mean by pixelated? Are you talking about the programme photos in the menus? Or something else? If it is the photographs, it's because the box specifications only offer 4,096 colours so photographs get their colour depth reduced. Some photographs look better than others after this. It's actually a minimum of 4,096 colours, so some devices we've tested show the photographs full colour. If you think 4,096 is not many colours, you're right. However on some of the other digital TV platforms, we only have 256 to play with!

    Phew - that was a long comment. Time for a coffee I think :)

  • Comment number 22.

    I have a Panasonic BDP-750 Blu-Ray Freesat recorder. Panasonic have integrated Viera-Cast into this machine (and many other TV machines). It would seem logical to have i-player integrated through Vieracast rather than red button. The net connection for this is already enabled and works. Any ideas when i-player will be available to Panasonic users both idTV and Hard Drive recorders?

  • Comment number 23.

    This service seems to run pretty well for me - certainly on high quality the stream is of a fairly acceptable quality. My only problem is that although pause/play works OK, I find jumping through the stream (or 'scrubbing' along the time bar) doesn't work well at all. To an extent this can be a problem on the PC version as well so may be a Flash issue, but would appreciate if anything can be done to improve things.

  • Comment number 24.

    How do you turn on subtitles?
    On the PC version it is easy but the Humax 'SUB' button does nothing.

  • Comment number 25.


    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by pixelated? Are you talking about the programme photos in the menus? Or something else? If it is the photographs, it's because the box specifications only offer 4,096 colours so photographs get their colour depth reduced. Some photographs look better than others after this.

    yes, that's exactly what I mean, sorry. I don't know how you're going to get round this, as it's an inherent problem with the platform, but it's the first impression you get when loading the service. My heart sank when I saw it, but the actual programmes are great.

    Good luck with working that one out/explaining it! Maybe drop the photos altogether?

  • Comment number 26.

    #20. At 10:29am on 12 Jan 2010, riotgibbon wrote:

    "cor, no pleasing some folk. Take no notice, Beebers

    We tried it last night. ..//.."

    Also know as the "I'm al-right Jack, s*d others" syndrome, you have singly missed the point of the criticisms and questions being laid at the BBC's door...

  • Comment number 27.

    #21. At 10:47am on 12 Jan 2010, Andrew Bowden wrote:

    "Launching from the red button is something we know quite a lot about and can make it work quickly and easily - and this is how we do it on Virgin as well. However alternative access points are something we're going to look into in a future release."

    Sorry but that logic simply doesn't stack, we are talking about STB and built-in receivers for IP capable TV's, the 'trigger' mechanism is surely down to the device manufacture - nothing for the BBC to be concerned with unless the intention was to integrate the iPlayer in to the "Freesat" brand in much the same way as BSkyB has integrated their PVR into their (subscription) service. The BBC could have simply specified what needs to happen when the BBC iPlayer gets launched via a IPTV.

  • Comment number 28.

    A usability comment:

    In the browser-based iPlayer, in a programme list there is only one entry per series with a link to click to see other episodes in that series. The freesat iPlayer always lists every episode in a series, making lists long and tedious to scroll through. Isn't it possible to make the programme lists behave more like the browser-based version?

    Other than that, good work!

  • Comment number 29.

    OK, I'm not going to get into a row about this, but I've seen at close-hand how the BBC actually develops this sort of service.

    Some of the cleverest and most motivated people I've personally ever come across do what they can with the resources and time available, using the best technology available. If there is no technology available, then they make it themselves.

    In the old days, there was TV and Radio, and you could broadcast with a good degree of confidence that all the receivers could pick it (that's the limit of my knowledge of analogue broadcasting). It's not that simple any more (ditto, but for digital)

    Not as exciting as deliberate policies to shut out or promote this or that technology, but there you go. I remember when Erik H was appointed, that this meant that Microsoft/Silverlight was going to going to take over, but that doesn't seem to have really happened either ...

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm using a Humax HDPVR box, have connected my broadband (Virgin Media) 10mb to the ethernet port, it obtains all the config ie IP address, when I launch the IPlayer via Red Button and enter Pin 5483 IPlayer launches, I am then able to select the program of my choice, however then I simply get Connecting Screen Goes Blank nothing else happends, if I press the Fast Forward button on Remote a Bar appears at the botton of screen, however nothing else. After 10 mins or longer I exit and box reverts to normal TV

    Any ideas?

  • Comment number 31.

    Are there any plans to bring the iPlayer to current TVs that use "widgets" to access (an admitedly restricted set of) internet content (in particular YouTube)?

    Or is the fact that the implementations seem to be proprietary mean the chances of this happening are unlikely?

  • Comment number 32.

    "In the browser-based iPlayer, in a programme list there is only one entry per series with a link to click to see other episodes in that series. The freesat iPlayer always lists every episode in a series, making lists long and tedious to scroll through. Isn't it possible to make the programme lists behave more like the browser-based version?"

    Thanks for the suggestion! You're referring to what we call "series stacking". The interface had a number of revisions and the representation of stacked series was tricky to get right on TV. The user journeys ended up confusing. We want everyone to be able to have a good experience. It was decided to wait and keep things simple for the first release. We haven't stopped considering how to implement it more effectively, so look out for tweaks in a future revision.

  • Comment number 33.

    Darren Thirkill - I'm told Panasonic are busy working on their firmware updates, so they should be ready in the next few months through the red button.

    Alan Robertson - the forward and backward skip is something we've had a bit of feedback on, so we've had our thinking hats on and are going to rework it to make it easier to use. Not sure when it will be ready - we only started discussing it yesterday,

    Ian - at the minute we don't have subtitles on the Freesat version, however we will be adding them in as soon as possible. They'll be activated in the same way as you would use them on a normal TV channel.

    Bolierplated - we want everyone with a compatible device to get BBC iPlayer as soon as possible. If we make it available on the red button, we make it available to everyone with a compatible device quickly and easily. If we relied on a mechanism that's reliant on the manufacturers implementing a link in their EPG software, that's not quick and easy as every box is different and they may not have made their boxes work in that way. They may be able to change them, however maybe not as quickly as it would be if we launched via the red button. Some may not have wanted to do it at all. Launching a red button application from a TV channel in contrast is easy and universal, and means we can get it out of the door with less fuss. And I'm not sure I can really add any more to this than that!

    Howard - it sounds like the video file isn't loading properly for you, although I'm not sure why. There's a technical support number which might be worth ringing as it might be something that someone else has has the same problem with. The number is on https://bbciplayerbetatrial09.freesat.co.uk/index.php?page=iPlayer.Troubleshooting

    Cerebos - right now I'm not aware of any widget based versions, just our Flash, HTML and MHEG versions. However such things are decided by more important people than me :)

  • Comment number 34.

    All I can say is "WELL DONE BBC". Its a great service.

    I have been using it on both of my Humax boxes (HD+ and HD) with Homeplugs back to my gateway since before Xmas. Except for the slightly slow menus, some programs being displayed without a play option and the FF/RW puzzle; its working very well indeed.

    Thanks to all involved - mark

  • Comment number 35.

    I'll have to check this again, but what is the sort order for "Most Popular" on a channel? We had to wade through a lot of Waybalous to find Nurse Jackie

  • Comment number 36.

    Humax Foxsat - 1.5mbs adsl2 - normal quality - worked immediately -great.

    I presume iPlayer currently creates a huge chunk of the UK's broadband network traffic - on compromised viewing devices. So when iPlayer on TV takes off, will the internet fall over? Who will be throttling? Has anyone a plan?

  • Comment number 37.

    That's very much for the prompt and informative reply.

  • Comment number 38.

    I've had another look at the service, this time near a pc so I don't forget half the relevant details ...

    1) Photos - the pictures on the front page are OK when they have focus, but sometimes don't look very nice when you start selecting the tabs along the top (eg for channels/categories/search). They get greyed out, so you know they haven't got focus, but it still doesn't look great

    2) programme order- when you are looking at a single day (not most popular) it seems to display the list in broadcast order, so for BBC you get a whole load of CBeebies programmes first.

    The phone-style keypad for the search is great.

    I think there might be a bug on a series stack. We started watching the 3rd or 4th item in a stack (Nurse Jackie again), realised it had already been seen, so pressed "back". Instead of going back to the front page for that episode, it reverted to the first item in the series. I haven't tried to repeat this, so don't know if it was a one-off, our mistake somewhere or an actual bug

    But overall it's great. Better quality picture than the Wii version (though the Wii is easier to control, so far anyway), and less hassle than connecting a laptop through HDMI

  • Comment number 39.

    Interesting. Just stumbled across this post. I'll have to try it when I get home.

    I don't know if anyone can answer this on a BBC blog, but is there any technical reason why ITV/Channel4/Five can't do the same thing with their catch-up services? Is there any plan for them to follow if the iPlayer experiment is successful?

  • Comment number 40.

    Riotgibbon - there is indeed a bug when using back on the More Episodes page. And the Most Popular section has very simple ordering. We show the top 10 most popular programmes for a channel or category, with number 1 being the first one you see. The day schedule is in broadcast order - we're going to add the broadcast times in there in a future release. That way it will look a bit more like a schedule.

    Waybuloo mustn't be too popular today - I'm seeing Newsnight instead!

  • Comment number 41.

    "the Most Popular section has very simple ordering. We show the top 10 most popular programmes for a channel or category,"

    Why even do this, unless by "Most Popular" what you really mean "What we want to promote", isn't the whole premise of iPlayer a catch-up service, people will be accessing if for a specific programme (or series), surely an alphabetical selection page should load - meaning that those who for example want to catch-up on the most recent edition of "Top Gear" would select "T" and then select "Top Gear" from the list of programmes.

    Has the BBC Trust actually given explicit permission for iPlayer to be used as an alternative broadcast method, which delivery in real-time via iPlayer and IPTV will be, or is this mission creep. Has any assessment been made of, as "OfficerDibble" pointed out, the impact on the wider broadband network when people are choosing to use iPlayer as their preferred viewing method? IMO, for the moment and until IP over fibre is more widely available nation wide, iPlayer PQ should be set at somewhere between that of HQ YouTube and off-air SD broadcast, that way iPlayer will remain the third choice: 1/. watch live broadcast TV, 2/. record to PVR from off air and watch later, 3/. watch the programme in an acceptable but low bandwidth iPlayer.

  • Comment number 42.

    My FreeSat box is a Humax Foxsat HDR, have a good broadband (10mb) connection, however as I previously posted, when I attempt to load the selected programme, boxes states loading programme, blank screen, if I press Fast Forward a Menu Bar appears bottom of Screen. Only way to leave is via press Exit button(on handheld) which takes you back to the BBC Channel.

    When I removed my ethernet Cat5 cable, the box detects Cable connection has been disconnected.

    This morning I phoned FreeSat Support 0845 293 8233 they stated the service is currently in Beta (which everybody knows, hence the PIN) and blank screen was a common/known problem.

    I then phone Humax Tech Support 0844 669 880 they tried accessing the service via their system, and I quote "Yeah we have the same problem, just tried to run Jonathan Ross, and box froze up"

    I guess the question to the BBC is "with my Humax Foxsat HDR and 10mb Virgin Media Broadband can I expect to access the IPlayer output"?

  • Comment number 43.

  • Comment number 44.

    A natural development, but how come this is now in testing stages for Freesat yet outside a basic text service and Sport Multiscreen, the majority of red button services are still not available for Freesat viewers nearly two years after launch, even those which are little more than a single video stream? Shouldn't they have been the priority?

  • Comment number 45.

    Howard - I'm sorry to hear you're still having problems getting the video to play. The set top box is clearly picking content off the internet, however struggling with the video.

    I've been racking my brains and the only time I can remember seeing something like you described is when the broadband speed has been fast enough.

    On the BBC iPlayer website there is a speed checker you can try to see what broadband speeds you're getting - if you get a tick next to "TV 800 kbps" then your broadband is fine for our Normal Quality, and a tick next to "TV 1500 kbps" means your speed is fine for Higher Quality.

    It might be worth trying at a different time of day - maybe late evening or during the day - and seeing what happens.

    On our roadmap is to improve the error handling and those changes may also help work out what's going wrong. Those updates will be in around 4-6 weeks time.

  • Comment number 46.

    Many thanks for the reply, Andrew.

    My only other suggestion would be for the Beeb blogs to offer a 'follow these comments' option to make it easier to look for replies in threads you've commented in (a la forums that send out an email update when someone has posted in a thread you watch).


  • Comment number 47.

    What type of broadband speed should I be using to judge whether I will be able to use BBC iPlayer when it becomes available on Freesat ?

    I took two readings, one each from mybroadbandspeed.co.uk and bbc.co.uk/iplayer/diagnostics using my Apple G4 ibook.
    They were taken moments apart at about 9pm, and the results are far better than I was getting a couple of weeks ago.
    When iPlayer goes onto Freesat, what exactly should I consider my broadband speed to be, the connection speed as per iPlayer of 765 kbps or the download speed of 1902 kbps (iPlayer) or 1448 kbps (mybroadbandspeed.co.uk), or for Freesat is the streaming speed more important (which acccording to iPlayer diagnostics varied between 477 and 1140 kbps) ?

    According to the Freesat website I will “need an actual broadband speed of 1Mbps to watch BBC iPlayer, or 2Mbps to watch in high quality.”

    Where do I stand?

    Many thanks.

  • Comment number 48.

    I've just used the beta for the first. It's really good. Looking forward to future updates.

    Well done for all your efforts. The BBC is amazing (and well worth the licence fee - in fact I'd pay double if you got rid of East Enders).



  • Comment number 49.

    @Howard, points noted, will check speed.

    If I recall the Humax FoxSat HDR box has a factory reset, I was thinking if this was invoked (I'm aware would loose all custom settings) however it might resolve the video play issue. I wonder if anyone else is experiencing this type of problem.

    Does IPlayer operate any form of R&D or Support?.

    As the Humax device receives software updates automatically via OTA service, I guess the box is running the current version.


  • Comment number 50.

    Baz2 - probably the streaming speed however it may not be completely accurate.

    The Streaming Speed measures the speed of Flash video from the content distribution networks the BBC uses (as explained by Anthony Rose in this blog post.)

    For the Freesat version of BBC iPlayer we don't use Flash video (it's h.264 wrapped in a transport stream if anyone would like to know what we do use), however we use the same servers to deliver the video. So the streaming speed test won't completely represent what you'd experience. However it should be close.

    Howard - if you want to check your set top box version, you should press MENU then select SYSTEM and then Diagnostics. You'll see a version number. The most recent version for the normal HD box is 1.00.24, and if you have the Freesat+ set top box, it's 1.00.12.

    If you haven't, may be worth unplugging your box and plugging it back in - I know it's an old adage, however it does sometimes clear up random problems with set top boxes and TVs. And of course computers!

  • Comment number 51.

    As I've never wanted to sit in front of my computer to watch TV, I think that adding iplayer to freesat is a wonderful service which expands my viewing choices.
    It seems to work well, although the other evening I was getting 'drop outs' with the picture and sound on 2 or 3 different selections I tried. This was using the 'higher quality' option, and I wondered if heavier internet traffic during the evenings means this problem will arise again due to slower speeds? On the ordinary setting, I didn't really find the picture quality to be good enough.

  • Comment number 52.

    I should add to my previous post (51) that the speed checker shows my speed as good enough for high quality. I'm also using plug adapters, as opposed to cable connection.

  • Comment number 53.

    just a little note to inspire those who are thinking of going the 'freesat' way.
    i was a sky subscriber for a few years but became a little distcruntled with their unwillingness to offer existing customers better deals. they only seemed intent on expanding their customer base.
    so i took the bold steps to cancel my subscription and purchase a 'humax' box. i then proceeded to obtain several quotes with a view to fitting an adaptor to my now redundant sky dish and running a second cable to my box, so that i could watch and record channels at the same time. the quotes ranged from £70 to £150 so i ordered the parts off the net for £27 and did the work myself! ive been really pleased with with the hd quality and how easy it is to navigate round the menus. i have now recorded loads of films ect over the x-mas period. but to put the icing on the cake i bought a home hub and connected my box via an ethernet cable to my router and via the code 5483 got bbc iplayer on the box yesterday.
    happy days!

  • Comment number 54.

    I checked the box against the software version, which is correct.
    I spoke with Humax Tech Support (via 0844 669 8800) they suggested:
    a) I carried out a Ping test to see if my FreeSat box was accessible. Via DHCP the Humax box picked up as I work in IT I used -T attribute ie ping -t this command continuously pinged the Humax device which returned with no problem.
    b) A Factory Reset was also suggested, which I also carried out.
    c) On your recommendation I also Power Cycled the box (unplugged for 2 minutes)
    d) Conducted a Broadband speed test: Download 2.3mb Upload 680
    I have the 10mb Virgin Media.
    e) My Virgin modem connects to a Linksys WRT54G (Wifi Router) however I connect using a wired connection.
    Humax are investigating, and stated they would liaise via email.

    I carried out all of these actions, however the Humax box is still unable to play the video.

    Happy to provide any further information you require.

  • Comment number 55.

    Just started using this with my Foxsat HD, and I'm very happy with it. The quality is pretty good, it'd be nice to see some HD content eventually but that's about my only complaint. Menus look pretty good to me (720p over HDMI) and I've not had any freeze-ups. It does take a little while to return to the menu after a program finishes (~20s) which is a bit annoying.

    As for the format, MHEG is a license free public standard. It's used in FreeView and FreeSat but could be implemented by anyone who cares to. There's some limited MHEG support in MythTV for example, so you could in theory hook up a DVB-S card to a HTPC box and watch iPlayer through that (I'll try this weekend). Given that we've also got a Flash version and an HTML (I'm assuming that means HTML 5) version in the works I'm struggling to think of any device which won't be able to receive iPlayer.

    Sounds like a good thing to me, iPlayer must be the most inclusive TV over IP solution in the world right now.

  • Comment number 56.

    Boilerplated — I think you may have misunderstood how this works.

    iPlayer for Freesat is an MHEG application just like any other part of Red Button, which is why part of it’s delivered over-the-air and you access it by pressing the red button and entering a code.

    The difference between it and other parts of Red Button (and other broadcasters’ services) is that it uses some new MHEG extensions to allow access to content (and, by the looks of what Andrew’s posted, parts of the application itself) delivered via an Internet connection. At the moment, only the Humax boxes support these extensions, but other vendors will be rolling out support over time. Once they do, iPlayer will work on those, too.

    In terms of convenient one-button/menu access to iPlayer… the BBC can’t themselves do this, as they don’t control the firmware, and if the manufacturers were to do it, you’d still be waiting for access now. The approach the BBC has taken means people with firmware supporting the MHEG extensions can try it out today (which means the BBC has an opportunity to tweak things based upon feedback) instead of having to wait for their STB manufacturer to not only decide when to release an update providing access via the main menus, but also whether to do it at all. If it was a required part of the Freesat specification, there would (rightly) be uproar, after all.

  • Comment number 57.

    I have got a panasonic freesat TV with a erthernet connection at the back. I have a orange mini live box. I am going to connect the 2 up with a ethernet cable (30metres) as the router is up stairs and the TV down stairs. Will it work or when will it work please advise?

  • Comment number 58.

    I bought a Humax HD Freesat box the other day and i like using Iplayer the first thing i watch was "The Incredibles" it was of good quality only thing i would say was the BBC Three Logo was there and on the the Iplayer Desktop it just a small BBC logo i would like to see this adopted into the Freesat edition.

    Also you cannot have a static IP address if you want to view Iplayer on Freesat because the DNS address keeps changing. I would like to see more high quality videos and even under channel BBC HD of possible.

  • Comment number 59.

    Just started using BBC iPlayer on a Humax box and it looks very nice =]

    By the way, there has been a 3rd party add-on Windows Media Center (Windows 7) made, found via https://www.neowin.net/news/main/09/11/26/how-to-bbc-iplayer-in-windows-7-media-center-uk just so that people know. This wasn't made by the BBC in anyway, it is a 3rd Party developer. Would be worth looking into in you can run it as it may do what you wish.

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 61.

    #60. At 2:47pm on 17 Jan 2010, I-Hate-People wrote:

    "...//...but like Boilerplated we all want the whole cake and not just a slice irrespective of how much money is involved."

    Well that last comment just proves how little you really understand about what I was saying, if anything money has been wasted as HTPC can already access iPlayer - the wheel didn't need reinventing - it just needed the IPTV manufactures to design a suitable IP capable TV, not just to access iPlayer (or other broadcasters streams) but even access email and web pages etc. It's not as though it's not, in a more basic form, been done before either, perhaps some are not aware of the US IP device/service called webTV...

  • Comment number 62.

    61. At 4:31pm on 17 Jan 2010, Boilerplated wrote:

    ...Well that last comment just proves how little you really understand about what I was saying,..

    After reading your comments I can't help but have the feeling that you work on the principle of "you don't understand what I write or say because you don't agree with what I write or say".

    A firm basis for a political discussion.

  • Comment number 63.

    re comments @ #62:

    I note that you choose to play the player rather than the ball still, how about responding to the detail of what I said rather than just my tome of response?...

  • Comment number 64.

    Being able to watch the BBC iPlayer in the lounge on a decent size screen is so much better than on my PC in the study. Currently the High Quality stream is a little problematic due my marginal broadband speed but it is still very watchable.

    I have noticed that sometimes nothing happens, just a blank screen, when selecting the High Quality version although the standard quality works OK. If this is because my broadband connection is not fast enough it would be very helpful to put a message to that affect on the screen if possible.

    Well done BBC.

  • Comment number 65.

    Can Boilerplated and I Hate People cool it please.

  • Comment number 66.

    Whiskywheels - a whole heap of factors come into play when it comes to drop outs, and busy times on the internet may be one of them. If there's anyone else using the internet in your house at the same time, then this may also cause it.

    John Emerson - it won't on your Panasonic TV just yet however in the coming months it will. I'm afraid I don't currently have the dates of when that will be. A BBC iPlayer link will be added to the BBC Red Button homepage soon so if your TV is ready and waiting, then you'll see it on there when your TV is updated.

    Bitsink - occasionally we've found that a video file isn't available due to encoding delays or other problems. At the moment, the actual programme page doesn't actually check to see if the video is available - we will be changing the code so that check is done and then you shouldn't get that blank screen. It will also us to track down which files aren't available, and find out why. Hopefully it's not happening for you too often!

  • Comment number 67.

    Following on from my problems playing the IPlayer video output on my Humax FoxSat HDR, today I received the following email:
    Dear Sir/Madam,

    We have developed software for this unit that corrects the problems listed, unfortunately we were unable to broadcast this software in the December period due to certain restrictions, we will begin to broadcast the software in a cycle with our other units in February, please make sure your unit is left in standby over night and the software should be downloaded automatically and correct the problem,

    Current Dates:

    PVR-9300T: 2nd February 2010,

    PVR-9150T: 6th February 2010,

    PVR-9200T: Awaiting Confirmation

    Many Thanks,

    Humax Customer Support

    0844 669 8800

    Mon – Fri: 9am – 5:30pm

    All I can say is "Roll on February!!!!!!"

  • Comment number 68.

    I would like to see the All the BBC's Youtube Channel's ingratiated into Freesat so you can watch classic clips of Eastenders, Doctor Who etc i think this would be a step in the right direction.

    Theoretically the BBC/ITV could incorporate these two youtube channel the same way as iPlayer because technically all they are doing is link to them and you use the internet to view them through Freesat so avoiding BBC/ITV having to pay Channel 4/5 any money


    I would be grateful if some could reply to this message. Kelvin

  • Comment number 69.

    Well I had the lead made up to connect the Humax Fox box to my my Seimens modem, plugged in both ends, went to BBC1, pressed the red button, entered code 5483 connecting came up and that was as far as I got, anyone any ideas? Does the Humax need anything done to it?


  • Comment number 70.

    69. At 4:14pm on 24 Jan 2010, NOG7000 wrote:

    "Does the Humax need anything done to it?"

    Well, judging by an earlier comment in this blog you might have to wait for a firmware update from Humax...

  • Comment number 71.

    Have tried to get to the bottom of the Humax problem for a couple of weeks now!!! there is clearly an issue with the HUMAX FoxSat-HDR box, over the weekend my local Comet Showroom hooket up a box, guess what it failed to play any video selected.

    Surely a statement either from the BBC or Humax should be made, I fully understand its a Beta system now, but it has problems.


  • Comment number 72.

    "Surely a statement either from the BBC or Humax should be made, I fully understand its a Beta system now, but it has problems."

    Haven't Humax already made a statement, which you posted above? Where they say the firmware won't be available until next month? Or was this a different box?

  • Comment number 73.

    Generally the Beta Freesat service seems fine. A couple of issues:
    1. There is a desperate need for pause and fast forward/reverse buttons.
    2. Buffering is still an issue. Some days 'no problem' but on others it is difficult to access the service

  • Comment number 74.

    Hello folks
    Can anyone help me. I have just purchased a netgear router and 2 devolo homeplugs. I have set the system up it seems to be connected okay. But when I try to obtain bbc iplayer nothing happens. I have pressed the red button, put in the code 5483 and the connecting sign comes up but nothing happens. The ethernet connection on the back of the Humax FOXSAT-HDR is flashing yellow and green so it seems to be connecting okay. Also I have configured the ethernet connection to the correct IP address, subnet and router. Help

  • Comment number 75.

    I should like to congratulate you on the Freesat iPlayer interface, brilliant. I can't wait till all your iPlayer content is available through Freesat. I particularly like to watch some of the BBC regional programs that I would not normally be able to view.

  • Comment number 76.

    When you try and fast forward it does it by too much and the same on rewind.

  • Comment number 77.

    TonyFreesat - you can pause using the OK button, and skip forward and rewind using the left and right arrows. If your remote has pause, fast forward and rewind buttons, you can also use them. We're going to change the design to make it more obvious.

    Kelvin - the amount that's skipped forward and backwards is also something we're going to tweak and improve. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Comment number 78.

    Does anyone know when Panasonic Freesat TV's are likely to support the iPlayer?

    They were first to market with a Freesat set and I bought one. Now I am a little disappointed that they seem to be silent on iPlayer, whereas Sony have announced support.

  • Comment number 79.

    I have tried the service on Humax HDR and Humax Hd both ok.
    I have also tried on a Sony Bravia KDL-nnW5810 Freesat TV very good and the Sony Bravia Sync Fast Rev,Play,Pause and Fast Forward controls work well

    Well done very impressed

  • Comment number 80.

    I've just set up my Humax HD box and it works well. Some issues with aspect ratio on the iPlayer interface and some of the 'available until' messages are negative numbers, but to be honest these are minor points that I'm sure will be ironed out on launch. Well done BBC!

    Humax, we just need you to develop a similar interface to deliver other popular services such as
    - YouTube,
    - ITV Player etc.

    and make the freesat box an SMB/UPNP client. You would then have a 'killer' set top device for the TV and I could then retire my living room PC.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 81.

    Since the recent software update, my Humax HDR box able to access and play all IPlayer video content. Really impressed with the service.

    Is there a schedule when ITV will release their Player, and perhaps Channel 4 I suppose the list can go on even Humax could provide Important Information via the Ethernet port!!!

    Any news on additional HD channels?

  • Comment number 82.

    Well I still cannot receive the Iplayer, as I stated earier

    "Well I had the lead made up to connect the Humax Fox box to my my Seimens modem, plugged in both ends, went to BBC1, pressed the red button, entered code 5483 connecting came up and that was as far as I got, anyone any ideas? Does the Humax need anything done to it?"

    I don't get the number not found message, just the connecting one, are all the software updates now been made or do I just have to wait longer, anyone had the same problem and have now solved it, help please.

  • Comment number 83.

    When you do you think we will get this on Sagem Freesat set top boxes.

    There's no mention of iplayer on the Sagem website?


    Is each manufacturer taking it in turns to test and then do and OTA update?

  • Comment number 84.

    Just connected up my Humax FOXSAT-HDR to my Virgin Cable internet hub, via mains adaptors; it took 5 minutes and the result is amazing. I have no problem watching i-player in the ‘high resolution’ mode, and the picture/sound quality is only very slightly worse than the normal satellite feed.
    Highly delighted...who says the licence fee is not worth it!

  • Comment number 85.

    Andrew, I notice a few people here are asking when their own brand of Freesat HD box is going to get this service (I've got a Grundig myself). Any chance you could post a list with the expected dates of availability for all manufacturers?

  • Comment number 86.

    When accessing the iplayer via Freesat and Humax PVR HD the connection is made upto the point of loading the program which does not complete or give an error. What is the reason for this? IP blocking perhaps.

  • Comment number 87.

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

  • Comment number 88.

    This week I connected both my HUMAX Freesat PVR and my Sony 5810 TV (Freesat tuner fitted) to my Broadband service via Ethernet through my domestic power. My PVR works perfectly and picks up iplayer no problem. My Sony TV however just comes back with 'Number not found'. I have loaded the latest firmware update which should have enabled the service.
    Does anybody have any ideas why the PVR works but the TV doesn't?
    Thanks in advance.

  • Comment number 89.

    I'm afraid I owe everybody an apology. I thought I had selected my Freesat tuner on my Sony 5810 TV before trying the new iplayer access but it appears I still had my Freeview tuner selected so consequently the 5483 wasn't recognised. A 'senior moment' I'm afraid!!
    No problem now.

  • Comment number 90.

  • Comment number 91.

    I would like to ask what has been going on over the past week or so and particularly the last couple of days.

    There have been several abortive starts at what I presume were last stage beta trials of the full service where the box carried out an MHEG5 command to check "is the device connected". This was evident when "Connecting" flashed over the "Please wait" prompt immediately the red button was pressed. A different "front page" for the interactive service was then downloaded with the iPlayer listed on it as page 7001 rather than the standard one being taken from the on air feed.

    I have been using the Freesat iPlayer service since the code became widely known before Christmas. I have my Humax non-recorder linked directly to my router and a true 10Mb connection from Virgin cable. For the most part all has been well apart from the first implimentation of the "Page 7001" service when overnight on Sunday night/Monday morning what I presume was the software change took down all red button services on all BBC channels on Freesat. That is until the last reversion to access through 5483 which coincided more or less with the launch of the Freesat information channel. This promoted the iPlayer service to a wider public.

    Since then, iPlayer has been geting increasingly problematic to the extent it has now become completely unwatchable. On the afternoon of 22/2/10 I attempted to watch Larkrise in the higher quality. Very quickly it started to break up into under a second bursts of delivery with the programme freezing until the next short burst. Note that the "swirling dots" did not come up. Dialogue was incomprehensible because of this. I switched back to "standard quality" and managed to watch it.

    Tonight I tried to catch up on Eastenders at about 01.00. Not only was the higher quality feed freezing but the standard quality was too. I have done a speed check for my connection and there are no problems there. It looked remarkably like the problems you have with hard disk access conflicts if you try to access more than one file at the same time. That led me to initially suspect that the "most popular" programmes were in high demand but testing that theory by going to the Andrew Marr Show (which I presume is far less popular - sorry Andrew) That too started to break up.

    Is this problem known? The symptoms suggest that there is insufficient bandwidth provided for the service. If this is the case, will this be addressed soon? Is there a projected date for the end of the beta or an idea of when the "7001" access system will be tested again?

  • Comment number 92.

    Well done, there was a brief interuption to the service at 4 am (changes to the software?) This afternoon the iPlayer is back and running reasonably fine on the higher quality service but it still does not like other uses of even a 10Mb service using the same router. I had minor problems with the freezing on the HQ feed of Nurse Jackie but disabling the laptop connnection which was using the same line sorted that out. That though was taking up a very small amount of the bandwidth on my cable connection.

  • Comment number 93.


  • Comment number 94.

    I've been hooked up via my Humax freesat box using Homeplugs and the service has worked quite well. We have a fast broadband connection and have found the quality satisfactory - but the sound sometimes is better on the lower speed connection. Bravo to the bright spark who put the access page on the red button text page (rather than 5843 or whatever it was!)

    However, I was mugged last night. Wife and I settle down to watch the film 'Hollywoodlands'. It was very good. But at 56 minutes it 'ended' - the real running time is more like 155 mins. Very frustrating and it reminded me of the old days watching dodgey DVD's which stop before the end.

    In future I will first check the running time before sitting down to watch anything long. By the way the whole movie is loaded on iplayer via pc.


  • Comment number 95.


    You said:-

    "During the beta period, we'll be working hard to make fixes and improvements and we'll continue to blog about our progress. Naturally we're interested in finding out about your experiences using the service - hopefully all good however if you have any problems, we'd also like to know as well."

    How about letting us know that the Beta trial on Freesat was ending on 12.03.10 at tea time. I spent quite a bit of money on Homeplugs and now I cannot use the service.

    No explanation - no nothing.

  • Comment number 96.

    So, now that the Beta has finished (as of yesterday), as I just found out when I tried it (!), when is it going to go fully live with the 7001 code?

  • Comment number 97.

    Looks as if 7001 isn't a code but just an information page? When it goes live, will it be chosen from the menu?

  • Comment number 98.

    Last night, I tried iplayer for the first time by trying to watch Hollywoodlands. My experience was the same as another contributor to thei forum, it stopped at 56 minutes.
    Does this mean it is not possible to watch programmes over 56 minutes in length? I am not aware or my ISP, in this case BT, capping my broadband usage.
    Havng written that the picture and audio quality was excellent.

  • Comment number 99.

    Hi Barrie,

    I don't think it has anything to do with your ISP. I just think it is a mistake with whoever ws responsible for loading it (BBC or Freesat). If you can recall if you scroll will waching it you'll see only 56 mins.

    But at least you can get something - I shut down my Humax on Friday afternoon and when it rebooted up I found that there is now no iPlayer beta access (its gone from the red button menu. If you've got Humax I suggest you don't switch it off or you'll end up like me.



    I think it is a terrible example of absolutely crap BBC/Freesat communications. We have websites, forums but they cannot put a notice up anywhere to advise whats happening.

  • Comment number 100.

    The service via Humax rocked using 5483. Since some time last week it stopped working on 7001 or the scroll down and click ok option, and now nothing happens - just a blank screen and no "starting the iplayer service" message. Very disappointed indeed!


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