The Beeb is now allowing other broadcasters to list their schedules on the homepage of its iPlayer service. It provides links out to their on-demand players so viewers can easily locate non-BBC programmes.
At the bottom left of the page where you normally see the BBC's range of channels is an option to list others. Click it and the Beeb's list is replaced with ITV1, Five and more, with each channel's programmes appearing in the same list format. Click on The Jeremy Kyle Show, for example, and you're taken to the ITV.com page with that episode.
The idea is to help people find shows from other channels and online services, as part of the BBC's public service remit. To do this, Auntie has partnered with ITV, Channel 4, Five, SeeSaw and the MSN Video Player in order to accumulate TV schedule information. The resulting metadata means the BBC now has a very useful database of TV shows from every major UK free-to-air broadcaster.
Although it might appear that the Corporation has just cherry-picked other big channels, the scheme is open to every UK broadcaster. All you need is an Ofcom-licenced channel, and you can provide the required information for inclusion into iPlayer. Even Sky could get involved, should it feel the need, although we won't hold our breath.
There's not much to complain about here. If we could drum up a whinge, it would be that we don't get the same quality video from the other sites as the BBC provides, and that you get redirected to another site in order to watch the video. But that's not the BBC's fault, and we can live with the slight inconvenience.
The BBC says helping people to find other "great digital services" is an important public service, and we're inclined to agree. The next public service we're keen to see it take on is the humane disposal of Peaches Geldof, for which we're happy to pay an increased licence fee.