BBC iPlayer for Apple TV: An Update

09Feb10

Last week I blogged about how I’d been working on a way to use BBC iPlayer on my Apple TV. At the request of the BBC, my employer, the plugin is no longer available.

The BBC raised concerns around deep linking to iPlayer content and the use of the iPlayer trademark. The plugin was also playing content rights cleared for PC, but not set top box, usage. By making that content available on set top boxes, the plugin potentially exposed the BBC to issues with rights holders.

I understand the reasons I’ve been given and so have complied with this request.

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10 Responses to “BBC iPlayer for Apple TV: An Update”

  1. That’s a real shame, but the law’s the law, etc.

    “The plugin was also playing content rights cleared for PC, but not set top box, usage. ”

    This is intriguing. Any chance of details on this distinction between “PC” and “set top box”? I have left my laptop on top of the telly on many occasions, but I doubt that’s enough to cross the threshold into set-top-box-ness. And of course there are PC-derrived systems like Boxee’s box (http://www.dlink.com/boxeebox), or http://www.popbox.com/ or just cheap computers like Eeepc (http://eeepc.asus.com/) which plug nicely into TVs. Or for that matter, I have a more expensive computer here (IBM Thinkpad) which also plugs nicely into the TV. Which of those are considered ‘set top’ scenarios?

    Does it become ‘set top’ by virtue of being plugged into a television? In which case would it be more prudent to use a large flat-screen PC monitor, or some kind of data projector?

    Or perhaps ‘set top’ refers to the mode of operation; being based on desktop software rather than running in a browser? Although the rise of site-specific browsers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Site-specific_browser) blurs that distinction somewhat; and tools like Boxee are built in some part from Web technology anyway.

    I’m not arguing the “PC” and “set top box” distinction is un-important. If it appears in contracts with content owners, it is clearly important. But it may be a hard distinction to sustain without some clear and widely understood definitions…

  2. *sigh* This is really really disappointing. Thank goodness I got a copy before it was too late. Oh, and I do appreciate the work that goes into building these things, and in your own time, so thanks.

  3. What a great shame! Hope this convinces them to make iPlayer available on Apple TV officially! (or maybe Apple will enable an App store fir Apple TV one day?)

  4. 4 Lens

    Just stupid. A sky box is a set top box, a freeview box is a set top box, a wii is a set top box etc, etc. You can even record on many Sky and Freeview boxes, unlike projects such as this and xbmc. The content is licenced for these purposes so why not device XYZ. This kind of thing needs to stop. The BBC procures and provides content for UK licence holders. It does so on a massive scale, and as such presumably has some influence. Content providers need to stop trying to over-juice and the BBC needs to stand firm and not give in to this kind of posturing. “We’ll buy it, but on our terms – the terms which best serve the UK public”.

    The only consequence of this kind of move is for people to use forked less-legal versions of the various software. The pirates will already be doing this, and will continue to – so don’t punish everyone else who wishes to watch content legitimately, albeit with a different device.

    This same argument was played out with Hulu – rights holders didn’t like the idea that people were watching from the comfort of their sofa, because the advertising deals were different for broadcast and web. While there may be such a discussion for ad-supported networks, this does not apply to the BBC because they are, as we know, funded differently.

    Ultimately anyone can plug a laptop into their TV and use iPlayer via a browser, even with a remote control. This cannot be controlled seperately from any other browser based usage. I just prefer to use an alternative device, and frankly, I don’t see why I shouldn’t.

    I wonder when the Wii will be blocked based upon this logic…

  5. 5 Tom

    I’ve been using XBMC on my computer, a HTPC (home theatre PC – note the PC). So you’ve blocked the iPlayer plugin because you think its a Set Top box when its a PC?

    Can this be raised with the BBC?

  6. Hi Tom

    The best way to raise this with the BBC is through the Feedback site:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/feedback/

    You might also want to contribute to the thread on the iPlayer messageboards:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/F7331806?thread=7320127

    The contact form for iPlayer specific queries is here:

    https://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/templates/bbciplayer/emailForms/emailPage

    Cheers
    Jonathan

  7. 7 Sam

    I’ve recently bought myself an Apple TV, and saw this was dated February of 2010. I was just wondering if the problem has been rectified and if I can now get iPlayer on my Apple TV?

  8. Hi Sam (and everyone else)

    I’ve posted an update here:

    http://jonathan.tweed.name/2011/02/10/iplayer-accessibility-and-apple-tv/

    In the update I look at the importance of bringing iPlayer to the Apple TV and a way in which the BBC could do so (if you have an iPhone or an iPad).


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