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BBC iPlayer Live Restart pauses live TV, goes back two hours

BBC iPlayer's new Live Restart lets you rewind live TV even if you weren't watching it, and watch any show from the past two hours.

Missed the start of the TV show you rushed home to watch? Not to worry -- BBC iPlayer now lets you rewind live TV even if you weren't watching it before, or watch any show from the past two hours.

The new controls are called Live Restart, allowing you to rewind or restart a programme even as it's on the air. 

Live Restart goes beyond the PVR-style options to pause and rewind live TV, as you can choose to watch anything from the last two hours even if you didn't record it. It's like having a PVR in the cloud recording everything Auntie shows.

Because it involves live broadcasts, you do need a TV licence to use Live Restart.

The new feature has become possible because the Beeb's backroom boffins have moved to HTTP streaming. This means breaking up the H.264 video into chunks and sending them to you as HTTP packets. Because web pages are already delivered from HTTP servers, they are cheaper and more abundant than specialist video servers.

Couple with advancements in adaptive bit-rate playback, Auntie reckons iPlayer will give you "a largely uninterrupted video experience offering the very best quality video your connection can support, regardless of the bandwidth available to you".

But hold your low-bandwidth horses -- Live Restart won't be available on mobiles, tablets and Internet connected TVs until later this year. iPlayer is currently optimised for over 500 TVs and portable devices, including Android phones, iPad and iPhone and even games consoles.

iPlayer continues to explode in popularity -- often watched in bed by people with tablets and smart phones -- and live viewing is growing too, making up nearly a quarter of total BBC iPlayer requests on the PC in April. That's an increase of 18 per cent on April 2011.

The new Live Restart feature launches today. Has iPlayer changed the way you watch telly? Do you watch more on your computer or on your TV? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.