BBC iPlayer – not impressed so far

iPlayerLike an idiot I signed up for the BBC iPlayer Beta, and today they sent me an email inviting me to take part. So far I can’t say I’m overly impressed. Given the build up that the BBC has given this service, the reality appears to be a complete mess. First when you try to use it you find that the BBC is joined, Dubya style, to the hip with Microsoft. And as a result insists that your using Windows XP, Media Player and Internet explorer. I have all those things but I still got a red cross because I had the audacity to use Firefox to go the the iPlayer website. Then after putting my iPlayer account and password in at least four different time I was told that they where ‘experiencing  technical difficulties’, before I eventually got the download install files. After I’d done that I was asked for my name and password again, except these weren’t the first ones but some new BBC account ones, so I had to register again. After that exercise I select a show, one of the BBC’s output in the last 7 days, and watched while it downloaded at a snails pace. 10 minutes later it’s done 22mb of 350Mb  total, by the time this arrives the presenters might have retired or died.
If they can’t allow more than 7 days to watch something, or do it in a manner that doesn’t require the patience of Job to get working, I can’t see there is much future in this. It needs to be much slicker, faster and less reliant on being a fan of Microsoft. But then you’d think they’d know that.


4 Responses to “BBC iPlayer – not impressed so far”

  1. 1 Ed
    July 29, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    I waited about two hours until 2% of a programme loaded then gave up. However the iplayer continued to steal my bandwidth. I turned the iplayer off and it made no difference. The iplayer left me with about a 5bps connection to the internet.

    It therefore took me three hours to find a solution in the BBC message boards (the BBC didn’t seem to cover this in their FAQ even though from their message board I would guess this is affecting most users). The way to solve the problem is to open notepad, type something and run it on your computer). Iplayer uninstalled.

  2. 2 David England
    July 30, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Apparently BBC employees have now difficulty with iPlayer at all. I’m beginning to wonder if iPlayer has been designed for the exclusive use of BBC employees.

    Thank heaven for UKNova!

  3. 3 Jim
    August 20, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Its a beta of a potential new service. Who’s going to roll out a beta of a service (it may decide to rethink) on mac and linux as well as windows? I’m a BBC license payer and I use Debian on duel boot, but frankly I think all these complaints about the OS and required apps is silly. They hit the large majority of the user base this way. They already said other OS support is in the pipeline.

    The more concerning issue is this bandwidth eating, which hopefully they will resolve.

  4. August 20, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    I’d agree with you but for the use of the term ‘Beta’. Beta’s aren’t Alpha’s. In an Alpha phase you work out what works and what doesn’t. Beta, by it’s very nature is the step you go through where your heading to an RC (release candidate). Software developers don’t get to Beta and then throw the entire system out, it’s far too late for that. Clearly iPlayer has been built with Microsoft technology because it allowed the BBC to get things up and running quickly, but only for those people who use XP, IE and Media Player. If they are going to embrace other operating systems and technologies that has be be built in from the start, which it obviously wasn’t here. The idea that ‘other OS support’ is in the pipleline is tosh. Microsoft wouldn’t allow their technology to come under the Linux GPL for starters. What might happen is an entirely different iPlayer technology, but it won’t have anything in common with what’s currently experiencing. What’s we’re currently looking at is a ‘proof of concept’, and not a ‘Beta’ of anything. And, the BBC would be getting much less stick if they called it that!

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