Crave Talk: Open the BBC's iPlayer to all broadcasters

With the BBC's iPlayer on the way, we're fearing for our computers as they become laden down with lots of software that all does exactly the same thing

Ian Morris
2 min read

It's not news that the BBC has got an Internet TV application on the way. The iPlayer has been announced more times than Lilly Allen has cussed fellow pop stars. The problem for the BBC is that it's had to pass technical and regulatory challenges before it could launch.

The good news is the iPlayer is all ready to go and joins services from other broadcasters such as Channel 4's 4oD, Sky Anytime and Five Download. Even ITV has stepped into the picture with news of a similar service on the way.

All of these download services use similar technology. They tend to be protected by Windows Media DRM, which stops you from sharing the files with friends. There are also restrictions in place that prevent people from outside the UK accessing these services.

So here's a thought: why don't all these broadcasters get together and work with each other to produce one simple-to-use application? As a user, it makes no sense to install four or five different applications to do the same thing. If you want content from all these broadcasters, your computer is going to be swamped with a multitude of apps all swallowing your bandwidth, but not communicating with each other.

The BBC seems to have spent the most time and effort developing its program, so couldn't it allow other broadcasters access to it? Those companies could have their own branded sections, and if necessary take payment for programmes or show adverts during their shows.

I'm sure there are complicated reasons this idea won't work, but it seems a great shame that TV companies can't find as compelling a way to provide downloadable content as the illegal BitTorrent sites do. Let's be honest: with illegal downloads, you are just a search away from your favourite programme, no matter what TV channel it aired on. If TV companies want to beat the pirates they really need to be better at providing their content. -Ian Morris