This Friday is iPlayer day, according to the excellent BBC Internet blog. This anniversary marks iPlayer's soft launch this time last year, with a harder launch that began on Christmas day with a TV advertising campaign. Since then, the BBC has been accused of , as well as upsetting granddads.
Today, the Guardian has reported that the BBC is planning to make iPlayer available to its commercial rivals. And why not? iPlayer has proved over the last year that it's the only product that can deliver TV over broadband in a way that excites consumers. No other UK service can claim 180 million programmes watched, and no one has managed to make such a massive library available to the public.
We suggested the BBC open iPlayer to other broadcasters-- we also invented blogging, the Internet and the spoon. We thought it made a lorryload of sense, because iPlayer is well suited to providing video on demand and at home with either streamed or downloadable content. It already handles numerous 'channels' so it's not especially hard to see it adapted to take in content from other broadcasters too.
We're also keen to reduce the number of separate players we have to install in order to watch video from Five, Channel 4, and ITV. Especially considering they all use the same Kontiki underpinnings. With the seeming demise of Project Kangaroo, it would make sense to use the licence-fee funded iPlayer as the base platform for UK online video.
We'll even go so far as to say that it could even include pay-TV content from Sky and anyone else who might like to get involved. Such a solution would mean that the BBC could become the iTunes of on-demand content. After all, the corporation saved digital terrestrial TV in the UK after the collapse of both OnDigital and its successor ITV Digital. The new, open iPlayer could be very much like the Freeview and freesat of Internet TV.
It shouldn't do any of this, though, until it's worked out a way to do HD video on iPlayer -- without bankrupting every ISP in the country in the process.