BBC, ITV, BT team as iPlayer takes on iTunes

The BBC is serious about attempting to deploy its iPlayer video-on-demand technology as an industry standard, announcing new partnerships with ITV and BT, “to promote a common industry approach and consumer offer to deliver on-demand TV over broadband.”

Such a pan-industry approach may in future pit the BBC and partners against other existing online TV solutions, including iTunes in the UK and similar services elsewhere.
 
As announced, the initiative is open to all public service broadcasters, device developers and other ISPs.
 
The proposals form part of the BBC Executive’s wider partnership proposals, they would see the development of a “standards-based open environment for broadband-connected digital television receivers,” a major step in online video.
 
The scheme is intended to support a wide range of content providers and could be promoted by all Internet Service Providers, with the aim to involve a wider group of partners by launch.
 
The vision describes a new generation of subscription-free devices, carrying free to air channels and a huge selection of on-demand TV services like iPlayer and ITV Player, as well as the potential for films, shows and interactive content from a range of other providers in standard and high definition.
 
The plans are subject to BBC Trust approval and public consultation.
 
Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC, said: “Audiences tell us that they want more services through their television set. I am pleased that the BBC is working with industry partners such as device manufacturers, ISPs and other content providers on proposals which will bring real benefits for consumers.
 
“We are building on a history of collaborating with and supporting the industry in research and development which includes NICAM stereo, Teletext and Freeview.”
 
Michael Grade, Executive Chairman, ITV, said: “This proposal will bring catch-up from the PC to the TV set in your living room, and all for free. This makes convergence a reality. It will also future-proof our free-to-air platforms, Freeview and Freesat. We are delighted to be working with the BBC, BT and other ISPs to bring this idea to fruition for viewers.”
 
Ian Livingston, CEO, BT, said: “Television and broadband are a compelling combination. Together they can offer live TV along with an unrivalled choice of on demand content and interactive services. It will mean that you can watch what you want whenever you want on your television. We are looking forward to working with the BBC, ITV and other internet service providers to support an open standard for the free to air market in the UK.”

The broadcaster today also revealed a little on how its iPlayer system works: iPlayer site traffic gets up to nearly one thousand concurrent requests per second. “We share head-end serving with the rest of bbc.co.uk traffic which is handled by 18 Apache web-servers running Apache 2.2,” the BBC said on the iPlayer blog.

The BBC also declared today to be “iPlayer Day”, running a series of in-depth posts, a Flickr and Twitter feed and more to mark the continued maturity of its technology.

In this video the BBC explains iPlayer on the PlayStation 3…

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