BBC Improves Full-Screen Quality Video For iPlayer

Erik Huggers’ first major project since becoming BBC future media and technology controller is a rather prosaic one – changing from one video codec to another – but the irony of moving to open standards is not lost on the former Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) man, and the result will have a wider implication: much better quality desktop video at full-screen.

Huggers’ digital media tech head Anthony Rose explained that the orignal decision to encode iPlayer videos with On2’s VP6 codec had meant “the full-screen experience was less than optimal – as the majority of BBC iPlayer users watch BBC iPlayer in full-screen mode, this is clearly something that needs to be addressed”. Though the better-quality H.264 format requires more CPU power, Rose said 80 percent of current iPlayer viewers are sufficiently tooled up in that regard, so the BBC is upgrading this week, pushing videos to iPlayer at 800Kbps. Audio is also being upped to the fuller-sounding AAC+.

That desktop iPlayer version is looking more and more like a misstep and a memory. Huggers quipped: “Having been responsible for driving one of those proprietary (file formats at Microsoft), it feels great to be at the forefront in driving the next wave in internet audio and video technologies and services.”