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MacBytes
Oct 11, 2008, 04:57 PM
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Category: News and Press Releases
Link: BBC blames Apple for iPlayer download barrier (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20081011175751)
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Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
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QuarterSwede
Oct 12, 2008, 12:34 AM
BBC, why not just post the content to the iTunes Store?

winmacguy
Oct 12, 2008, 02:06 AM
BBC, why not just post the content to the iTunes Store?

Because they are married to Microsoft.

OllyW
Oct 12, 2008, 02:38 AM
BBC, why not just post the content to the iTunes Store?

Perhaps Apple are not interested in going to the trouble of hosting hundreds of TV and radio shows, from 8 TV stations and 12 radio stations.

The shows have to be uploaded as soon as the show has finished and kept online for exactly 7 days under the licensing terms of the content providers. Apple would then have to cover the bandwidth for the downloads and not receive a penny for doing so.

SnowLeopard2008
Oct 12, 2008, 02:42 AM
Exactly, and the iTunes store isn't making a lot of money to begin with.

SailorTom
Oct 12, 2008, 05:51 AM
Lets be honest here, the BBC have got their model wrong anyway. The BBC wants to DRM their content when it's online, so they can't deliver to apple devices because they can't use FairPlay. Problem is they shouldn't be using DRM, especially during this anti-DRM movement. The most popular version of the iPlayer is the streaming version, which is essentially free to access for anyone but the BBC is trying to push the download option for various reasons but when it's wrapped in DRM it's just not going to happen, especially when people can easily get it in DRM free formats anyway. When recording a show to DVD or HDD it's not wrapped up in DRM and yet it doesn't matter. The BBCs programming is so readily available anyway, it's not like people need to share their recordings. Plus it's not like all their online enterprises are DRMed. You can get live tv over the internet using Zattoo - admittedly their is no function to record it yet.

Still the fact remains their is an easier way to do the iPlayer which actually fits in to the rest of the TV model. Provided the user has a valid TV license they should be able to download shows DRM free. That's essentially the same as recording it, just more convenient and the public will thank you for that.

Loge
Oct 12, 2008, 06:25 AM
They are talking about DRM for videos in 320 x 180 resolution?

C'mon BBC, get with the programme.

Mr Skills
Oct 12, 2008, 07:48 AM
BBC, why not just post the content to the iTunes Store?

They do (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7252582.stm).

iPlayer is a different thing - it allows UK residents to view programs for free for a limited time.

Loge
Oct 12, 2008, 10:52 AM
They do (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7252582.stm).

iPlayer is a different thing - it allows UK residents to view programs for free for a limited time.

Why can't that be done through the store too? The store already provides time-limited content, and the ability to restrict specific downloads to the UK only.

dariusperkins
Oct 12, 2008, 03:54 PM
Because they are married to Microsoft.

In what way?

Web iPlayer uses Flash, no? iPlayer mobile streams to iPhone through H.264 mp4 IIRC.

OK, they still use MS DRM for DL content, but they're using Open Mobile Alliance DRM for the new Nokia n96 service.

Link to iPlayer supported devices. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/where_to_get_iplayer)

Why can't that be done through the store too? The store already provides time-limited content, and the ability to restrict specific downloads to the UK only.

Like the article says, it's to do with the FairPlay DRM - they want to host their own media within bbc.co.uk. Do Apple allow regular, free, time-limited downloads?

Mr Skills
Oct 12, 2008, 04:12 PM
Why can't that be done through the store too? The store already provides time-limited content, and the ability to restrict specific downloads to the UK only.

iPlayer allows anyone in the UK to download and play BBC programmes for a limited time after broadcast, for free. As far as I'm aware nothing similar has ever been done on iTunes. I'm sure it's technically possible, but it would be up to Apple - which is kind of the point of the article.

dariusperkins
Oct 12, 2008, 04:20 PM
Actually, I'm more interested in why you still can't watch programmes over 3G - the streams are 512k so there's more than enough bandwidth. TBH, if I'm near a WiFi network chances are I'll watch them on a laptop.

I'll ask on the BBC Backstage list - will keep you posted.

Loge
Oct 12, 2008, 05:02 PM
iPlayer allows anyone in the UK to download and play BBC programmes for a limited time after broadcast, for free. As far as I'm aware nothing similar has ever been done on iTunes. I'm sure it's technically possible, but it would be up to Apple - which is kind of the point of the article.

Rental downloads are already available in iTunes that expire after a fixed period. So yes there is something similar being done already. In this case, the price would be zero, but that is does not seem like a technical hurdle, there is already content in the iTunes store that is available for free.

But anyone who thinks that Apple will licence Fairplay to the BBC is living in a dream world.

Mr Skills
Oct 13, 2008, 04:34 AM
Rental downloads are already available in iTunes that expire after a fixed period. So yes there is something similar being done already. In this case, the price would be zero, but that is does not seem like a technical hurdle, there is already content in the iTunes store that is available for free.

Obviously it's technically possible. I mean there's no precedent for Apple actually allowing it to happen. So it's pointless to just tell the BBC to stick it on iTunes and adopt a completely different rental model than everyone else, because this would require Apple's (unlikely) cooperation, just as licensing fairplay would.

They are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

babyj
Oct 13, 2008, 04:57 AM
The BBC can only allow people to watch TV programmes for free for 7 days from the day of broadcast, which means they have to use DRM. If they went over the 7 day limit it would trigger a whole load of problems with regards to payments to actors, writers, production companies and so on.

The TV licence doesn't give you the right to own a copy of BBC content permanently, it just allows you to watch their TV channels as they are broadcast and for 7 days after that. Things would get a lot more expensive if that changed - the BBC are heavily reliant upon DVD and download sales for example and if that income disappeared it would have to come from somewhere else.

I think Apple are really missing out by not hosting the content themselves through iTunes. The rental support is in place so there aren't any problems in that area. The only issue is the bandwidth and other hosting costs, the BBC would have to pay for these if it hosted the content itself so its seems a no brainer for the BBC to pay Apple for hosting instead. It wouldn't cost them any more and would probably be cheaper given the massive network Apple already have in place.

I'm sure it would give a massive boost to iPod sales, probably Apple TV as well. Maybe someone needs to get them all together and bang their heads together until they can work something out.

Loge
Oct 13, 2008, 05:35 AM
Obviously it's technically possible. I mean there's no precedent for Apple actually allowing it to happen. So it's pointless to just tell the BBC to stick it on iTunes and adopt a completely different rental model than everyone else, because this would require Apple's (unlikely) cooperation, just as licensing fairplay would.

They are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Of course it requires Apple's co-operation, and of course this would involve the BBC in some cost, just as licencing Fairplay would. But the article only refers to the second option, we do not know if they've pursued the iTunes option. However, since that is Apple's preferred distribution method, it seems the BBC would have more luck going that route.

Basically the BBC screwed up, by adopting a Microsoft only solution when they were required by their charter to provide a cross platform solution. So now this guy's bent out of shape because they have to do more work.

Kilamite
Oct 13, 2008, 06:29 AM
I'm really not that impressed with the BBC these days - we pay a premium fee, and get given so much crap.

The Big Cat Live - good concept, but the production and presentation of it all was like something you'd expect from Channel Five. Crap.

Mustafa
Oct 13, 2008, 07:39 AM
I'm really not that impressed with the BBC these days - we pay a premium fee, and get given so much crap.

The Big Cat Live - good concept, but the production and presentation of it all was like something you'd expect from Channel Five. Crap.

Each to his own, I suppose, but there is an awful lot of good content on the BBC, far in excess of any other broadcaster, IMO.

The BBC is still the jewel in the crown of our cultural life, and I know many people around the world who would give a lot to have something similar in their own country.

AlmostThere
Oct 13, 2008, 07:47 AM
Basically the BBC screwed up, by adopting a Microsoft only solution when they were required by their charter to provide a cross platform solution. So now this guy's bent out of shape because they have to do more work.


How many non-Apple devices support Fairplay? This 'Microsoft only' solution supports Sony, Archos and Nokia devices.

As you say, they need to support a cross-platform solution, which Fairplay, until it is available for licence, is not.

Jeonat
Oct 13, 2008, 11:59 AM
I have a lot of respect for the BBC and the steps they've made to make the streaming iPlayer service available for lots of devices - they didn't have to make that Flash version, or the version for the Wii, or the version for the iPhone, or the version for S60. But they have which is great.

I would be against the BBC using the iTunes distribution method to distribute the iPlayer download method. Firstly, the DRM and the fact that it would not be compatible with non-Apple devices - locking into Apple's commercial DRM would surely not be for the benefit of licence fee payers. Although I am also against WM DRM, it is at least more widely compatible. Plus of course there is the need to download iTunes on Mac or Windows.

Obviously the best solution would be to provide DRM-free MP4s that people can download, but until we have more enlightened TV and movie studios that probably won't happen. But moving from WM DRM to FairPlay isn't actually making anything better!

The Phazer
Oct 15, 2008, 02:11 AM
Of course it requires Apple's co-operation, and of course this would involve the BBC in some cost, just as licencing Fairplay would. But the article only refers to the second option, we do not know if they've pursued the iTunes option.

They have. Apple aren't interested since there's no fee to take 40% of. Apple UK basically have no development resource at all, and Apple US don't care since it wouldn't be the in UK store.

Apple UK aren't even willing to implement an interface on Apple TV to view the iPhone streams, which would take one of thier programmers all of 20 minutes.

Basically the BBC screwed up, by adopting a Microsoft only solution when they were required by their charter to provide a cross platform solution. So now this guy's bent out of shape because they have to do more work.

Not one bit. The BBC selected the only possible solution at the time. It's a shame they communicated it so badly, but the decision to use MS DRM at the time was entirely correct, because it was the only DRM that did what they needed it to do.

Obviously the best solution would be to provide DRM-free MP4s that people can download, but until we have more enlightened TV and movie studios that probably won't happen. But moving from WM DRM to FairPlay isn't actually making anything better!

DRM free will never happen. It's not a matter of enlightenment, it's a matter of how much rights cost - something set by a much wider market like books etc. Music piracy has pushed up music licencing costs for broadcasters by nearly three times in the last five years for example.

The DRM is there to enforce the BBC's licence that they can give you content to see for seven days only - and that isn't going to change any time soon. The studios and actors/writers/music companies etc are reasonably willing to sell the BBC permanent rights, but they'll want five times as much money for it - and the BBC spends about a third of it's budget on third party rights as is. That means multiplying the licence fee by several times to pay for it, and that isn't going to happen.

The DRM debate is different for television than it is for music. DRM is GOOD for subscriptions, and nobody was interested in music subscriptions because music doesn't cost enough to justify it. Television is very expensive to make, and hence people are interested in the temporary broadcast or subscription model, because they save a LOT of money by doing it.

Phazer

.adam
Oct 15, 2008, 05:50 AM
I'm really not that impressed with the BBC these days - we pay a premium fee, and get given so much crap.

The Big Cat Live - good concept, but the production and presentation of it all was like something you'd expect from Channel Five. Crap.


Whereas Bruce Parry's Amazon and Charlie Boorman's By Any Means were quality.

russellelly
Oct 15, 2008, 06:03 AM
Surely one massive point is that not having iPlayer downloads (sorry, wifi is nice but nowhere near universal) will hurt iPod Touch / iPhone sales, especially now that some devices can support it.

Could the BBC pay Apple for what it would otherwise pay for servers, perhaps even restricting the content to iPod/iPhone only to keep bandwidth low (anyone wanting to watch on a Mac can use flash streaming). I'd have thought it was win-win really.

The Phazer
Oct 15, 2008, 07:37 AM
Surely one massive point is that not having iPlayer downloads (sorry, wifi is nice but nowhere near universal) will hurt iPod Touch / iPhone sales, especially now that some devices can support it.

Could the BBC pay Apple for what it would otherwise pay for servers, perhaps even restricting the content to iPod/iPhone only to keep bandwidth low (anyone wanting to watch on a Mac can use flash streaming). I'd have thought it was win-win really.

Again, this assumes Apple UK have the resources to do any of this.

There are a million and one trivial things Apple could do to improve Apple TV and iPhone sales in the UK, and Apple do none of them. It would appear at this point that the reason must be because they can't - they don't have the programmers, and the UK isn't a big enough priority to get any track time with Apple US's production teams.

Phazer