Updated: BBC Commits iPlayer To Kontiki

The BBC has refuted a report it is to abandon the Kontiki content delivery product that powers its iPlayer desktop application. C21 yesterday claimed: “The BBC iPlayer will cease using peer-to-peer service provider Kontiki, which has just been sold by parent VeriSign (NSDQ: VRSN) and is in line to power on-demand joint venture Kangaroo.”

But a BBC spokesperson today told me: “We’re committed to providing the highest quality experience for our users. This includes a download version for PCs that uses Kontiki P2P distribution technology. We’re continually evaluating the best options for each of the technology components used by BBC iPlayer.”

Despite only buying Kontiki, which also powers BSkyB’s (NYSE: BSY) Sky Anytime and C4’s 4oD, in 2006 for $62 million, VeriSign flogged the operation to its investors MK Capital on Monday for just $1 million and a share in the spun-off operation. What could be going on? Perhaps the BBC is considering the in-browser version of Kontiki, which Sky Anytime added in December to allow downloads over the web? Despite being conceived as a desktop app that would house TV shows and manage their DRM, many more people use the web-based iPlayer the BBC later decided to add.

Updated: Meanwhile, BBC audience experience head Jonathan Hassell let slip that live iPlayer streams are “something we’re working hard on and hope to have ready some time in June or July said subtitling is now available on many programmes offered through the desktop app and could arrive via the web stream version by June or July.

The BBC said his blog post had been “misinterpreted”: “He was referring to the availability of BBC iPlayer subtitling on streamed pre-recorded programmes for June or July; and then, after that, for programmes shown live on their linear transmission, such as BBC One’s The One Show. As for live streaming of BBC channels on iPlayer, our aspirations are to meet audience expectations by providing this in the fullness of time.”