Archive for October 17th, 2007

BBC iPlayer

October 17, 2007

2 pint overload 

Since broadband was available for a reasonable price throughout the UK, people have been downloading films over it. My friend downloaded a wobbly copy of Episode 1 of Star Wars months before it came out over here and got to discover that Jar-Jar Binks was shit way before anyone else. That was in 1999. I’m saying this so that you can get an idea of how behind the times ‘Auntie’ is in launching a program downloading service.

The BBC have realised the internet exists and now let you watch shows through BBC iPlayer. The sign up process is confusing, but provided you have at least a PhD in Computing and the sort of relentless optimism that got Haig through the Somme, you should be able to manage it. Your computer will be filled with a bilious slob of a program that will swallow up resources and works very slowly.

I bet at this point you’re thinking ‘well at least I’ll be able to watch my favourite programs whenever I want’. Well, no, you can’t. You can watch a tiny selection of programs for about seven days and then they are gone forever. Thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded you don’t get to watch the programs you have already paid for whenever you like because the production companies have realised this might dent their sales of compilation DVDs at Christmas. So all the programs are limited.

The searching is clunky and slow, you can’t download a series in one go, or even a few episodes from a series. You have to find a program, click the first one on the list, go into the item of it and click download. Then you have to go back to the menu, find the program again and click the second one on the list and then go into it’s page to download it.

It doesn’t even realise that if you always download Mock the Week, you might want to be able to ‘subscribe’ to it and get it whenever a new one comes out, as Podcasts have done for a while. Is that too much to ask?

Oh and it’s just full of crap at the moment, the image above is an actual screen shot from their ‘comedy’ selection. Provided you like watching Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps you will be delighted. What makes this worse is that there are naughty websites on the internet who provide this service illegally and they do it much better. You can be sat at your desk at work at watch classic episodes of Dr Who or the second season of Heroes with only the occasional danger of adverts for ‘hot girls in Slough’ flashing up.

The BBC does some things brilliantly. In my head the license fee I pay is split between Radio 4, the BBC website and the cast of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

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