iPlayer chief promises huge improvements

Anthony Rose, head of the BBC’s digital media technology and former CTO of Kazaa has made a big promise to the millions in the UK already enjoying iPlayer content.

Speaking to Jeremy Kirk, he promised the broadcaster would continue to innovate its service, introducing new social networking features soon to make the whole experience of TV-watching online a more collaborative experience.

“”Last year, the BBC chose what you watched,” Rose said. “This year, you choose what you want, and next year your friends will help you pick what you want to watch.”

BBC keeps improving the service which is available on more and more devices, offers improving resolutions and extra added features on a rolling roll out of improvements.

“We are going to be putting a lot of research and development into this,” said Rose, “I hope we’ll be a real leader in this area.” The broadcaster is basically grappling with problems which vex others in the field, but gaining a world class lead in terms of the development of solutions which actually work – well.

For example, by the end of the year iPlayer content will be made available using variable-bit encoding systems, Rose said, a system which maintains video quality but significantly reduces the bandwidth required to transmit the video.

Rose also had something interesting to tell the ISPs, who complain that video online stretches their networks (while also offering video online as an inducement for customers to sign-up to their service – go figure….) Rose, says the ISPs are simply feeling short term pain, and should focus on future opportunity.

In the coming months, iPlayer users will also soon see social-networking features that will allow people to share and rate programs they like and get recommendations from other people with similar interests.

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