BBC iPlayer Launch Accelerated To July; Also To Run On Cable, Virgin, More

Launch for BBC’s iPlayer, offering the last seven days of programming for download and viewable within a 30-day window, has been brought forward from November to July 27 – and the service should later be available on YouTube, Virgin Media and a host of web outlets. After finally gaining BBC Trust approval in April, the service, which required technical modifications to accommodate the Trust’s new requests, was not due to surface until fall. The new schedule may be at the expense of features like series stacking, radio and streaming, which it’s now said will be available “in time”.

The new date is not the only surprise, however – from the release: “BBC iPlayer is far more than a standalone application. Later this year, it will become widely accessible across, as well as via links from YouTube and a number of other potential distribution partners.” So not only can viewers click web links to download programs, the BBC will also leverage its YouTube channel partnerships for the same purpose.

Distribution expansion: “The BBC is in discussion with a wide range of potential distribution partners, including MSN,, AOL, Tiscali, Yahoo!, MySpace, Blinkx and Bebo.” (The presentation video demonstrates how some of those sites may run iPlayer clips). “We’re also committed to making it available on the television screen, which is why we are delighted to be working with Virgin Media towards a launch on cable later this year. We are hopeful that other TV platforms will follow soon after. Our vision is for BBC iPlayer to become a universal service available not just over the internet, but also on cable and other TV platforms, and eventually on mobiles and smart handheld devices.” It’s a significant expansion of previously known plans, and the BBC will be keen to minimize further regulatory fussing on the new proposals. But BBC programming is already available on demand on Virgin Media and there will be no real reason the corporation should be barred from creating a similar front-end brand on emerging IPTV boxes, for example.

Mac, more: Still no timescale for Mac/Unix iPlayer release, and the Open Source Consortium is due to refer that delay to the European Commission on competition grounds. (BBC News). BBC will outsource encoding and uploading of its World News clips for YouTube to Comcast subsidiary thePlatform. (Release).