Adobe’s Chief Software Architect Kevin Lynch announced today at Adobe MAX Europe that the BBC will use the Flash runtime for its iPlayer application, which enables UK viewers to download and play broadcasts for up to a week after their initial airing. In a short announcement, he said that the BBC will use Adobe’s technology end to end, from streaming to the cross-platform player on the client.
This appears to be a setback for Microsoft, whose technology is used in the controversial iPlayer currently in beta. It is unfortunate that the existing iPlayer is based on Windows Media Player components, rather than the new cross-platform Silverlight component which would be more suitable. The BBC has endured a hail of protest concerning iPlayer, based mainly on its Windows-only implementation, but also on installation hassles and annoyances arising from the Kontiki peer-to-peer technology which it uses. See here for my own experience.
However, Adobe’s press release suggests that the Microsoft iPlayer is not dead:
The BBC iPlayer on-demand streaming service will complement the download service currently available.
On the other hand, its seems odd that the BBC would use both a Windows-only and a cross-platform player technology. My hunch is that if the Adobe solution works as smoothly as the Flash player usually does, then the Microsoft-based service is likely to wither. I’ll be teasing out more detail on this later today.
There are a few more clues in this BBC story:
The BBC has also confirmed that users of Apple Mac and Linux machines will be able to use its TV catch-up service from the end of the year.
The broadcaster has signed a deal with Adobe to provide Flash video for the whole of the BBC’s video services, including a streaming version of its iPlayer.